Can the novel survive the demise of novelists?

The demise of the novel? This has been predicted again and again over the decades, if not the centuries, yet people keep reading novels. Here’s a recent vote of confidence in their persistence:

“The book-length text is coded in our DNA and will never go away; it is the written version of the oral myths and histories told on consecutive nights around campfires for 80,000 years. In each new generation, roughly the same percentage of people is born with

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English language needs *iktsuarpok*

Iktsuarpok: an Inuit word more useful to us citizens of the digital universe than umpteen expressions for varieties of snow.

Here’s how the blogsite Mental Floss characterizes the expression:

“You know that feeling of anticipation when you’re waiting for someone to show up at your house and you keep going outside to see if they’re there yet? This is the word for it.”

And it occurs to me that iktsuarpok might enrich modern English, where it could just as

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Digital technologies: The great levelers

 

Lonely Planet has long made everyone an adventurer, IMHO, thereby sapping much travel of any real adventure. The Discovery Channel and National Geographic, from what I hear in the street, have made nearly any experience you can imagine accessible from the comfort of your own armchair.

“So you went walking in Antarctica? (Yawn.) Whatever. I saw Antarctica on TV last week. Yeah, it was awesome. All those fuckin’ penguins, eh?”

Etc.

And now Google Goggles will make anyone with … Read more

Bookish enhancements vs. publishing gimcrackery

Print books are still alive, despite continuing attempts to ruin them with digital enhancements. Digital bells and whistles are appropriate for textbooks, e.g., but, if anything, they’re destructive of works of fiction. According to this story in The Bookseller, early moves to klutzify fiction with such gimmicks as hyperlinks and video have not proven a commerical success, and are unlikely to.

In other developments, someone has found a wildly imaginative way to non-digitally enhance print reference books. Call … Read more

Better than ever: Surgical revision rools

1 April 2011. I’m trying to beat a self-imposed but important deadline with The Proteant Enigmass. A few people have said they’d like to see the working ms., but I’m waiting till I get to a certain point in the story so they can get a better sense of what I’m trying to do. And I’d really, really like to do that before Tuesday’s operation. (As it stands, no one has seen any part of this thing, and I need … Read more

Qubital worlds save Pyramids from erosion by camel crap

Leary here. Wherever that might be (not to mention when).

Current affairs written on the wind (“mere ephemera,” according to my editor, which I didn’t ask). Right now, many of you folk back in 2011 will be fretting about political events in Egypt. The papers should be full of it. (You could still read newspapers back then, and they were often full of it.) No doubt the TV networks will be talking it up like they discovered Egypt only last … Read more

Writerly occupational hazards: Addictions, spinal deficiencies, and disciplinary infinite regresses


One writer, however much tongue in cheek, has actually expressed admiration for addicts:

I admire addicts. In a world where everybody is waiting for some blind, random disaster, or some sudden disease, the addict has the comfort of knowing what will most likely wait for him down the road. He’s taken some control over his ultimate fate, and his addiction keeps the cause of death from being a total surprise.     ~ Chuck Palahniuk

Overall, though, even Palahniuk would probably concede … Read more

Needed: iPhone “creativity meter” app

Here’s one more way modern digital technology is making our lives worse.

In times past, I’d never leave the house without a little notebook in my pocket. The plastic jacket provided handy pockets for business cards. More importantly, meanwhile, the front of the diary served as a day planner, where I’d enter appointments and other reminders from front to back as far ahead as the future boded. The back of the book was where notes for posterity went—where in idle … Read more

Digital bedlam

Yesterday I was riding the BTS here in Bangkok, when I noticed a guy standing in the corner of the car. What first caught my attention was his face, which was bathed in an unholy glow. Short of sleep as I was, my first thought was, yow, this is some kind of divine messenger, maybe sent by my dear, departed mother to have another go at finally setting me straight.

Then I realized the light came from the iPad he … Read more

No Christian, just a curmudgeon

My favorite song of the month is “St. Jerome the Thunderer,” by Dion. I’m not even a Christian, only a curmudgeon, yet I find this piece uplifting. Plus I can’t stop grinning every time I listen to it.

Yes, Dion is that same Dion DeMucci who recorded such ancient hits as “The Wanderer” (1961) and “I Wonder Why” (originally in 1958)—then and more recently). Now in his 70s, he rocks, totally—better than ever, an inspiration to anyone approaching … Read more