February 22

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Trashy stories, posted fiction, saving literature

It seems that America has stopped reading. On trains and in cafes, I still see faces bent into books, but the trend is clear, and the rest of the Anglophone world is no better. If Oprah ever discovers the pleasures of World of Warcraft, and cancels her book club, the injury to the publishing industry will probably be fatal. Walk into a Barnes and Noble, and you’ll see that they’re desperate to sell everything but books, that they feel ashamed to be involved with them—to get to actual Literature, you have to walk through at least one floor of accessories, gifts, and book-shaped-objects. Fiction is, therefore, becoming more and more like poetry, being read only by its practitioners.

I believe that, to save fiction, we have to get stories back into people’s hands. This is my idea how: choose a house in your neighbourhood, wait until “trash day,” and quietly rip open a black bag or two. Go through the thrown out things, and write a very short story about them. Then post it through the owner’s door, with a note saying, “If you want to know the ending to this story, knock on the door to the left.” You have also gone through that house’s rubbish, and posted through its door a story which could, conceivably, be both the ending and beginning of the two stories combined.

The scheme makes fiction personal, immediate, and communal. Literature is saved.

Yet, whenever I’ve explained this plan to friends, they say it sounds more like stalking than writing. All great ideas were misunderstood at first.

Daniel


Tags

Oprah, reading


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  • You know what Daniel, I miss reading, my time alone… I will write soon 🙂 Have updates.

  • Great recepi for better understanding among neigbours and humankind in general.
    On a larger scale, there is no better initiative for world peace as a delay in an airport and to connect the people of the world in short stories about their passing at that point at that particular time.

  • no time to read in the US of A, no way to encourage reading unless it can be monetized. The habit is gone here. Even theater has to be multi-media: the proscenium arch is just one screen. No attention span, no financial benefit. Those who still read & think critically must link up to keep their minds and hopes alive. I use twitter.

  • Susan, this evening, I was sitting at a cafe’s outdoor table, with a copy of “The Adventures of Augie March” face up. A man approached me and said, “Excuse me. Maybe you know this, but Saul Bellow’s letters have just been published. They’re amazing.”

    I nodded.

    He repeated, “Amazing,” and walked away.

    At least one is left.

    • Amazing. Could you contrast reading habits in the UK with what you’ve observed here? BTW, just got word unofficially that my entrepreneur visa application has been approved. Have to wait for the official word to buy tickets, etc, but I plan to leave next month. Did I tell you about my plan for an American specialty bookshop/media centre in Brighton? US Embassy in London says it would be the only one in the UK. I have 3 mths to set it up after landing in the UK. Would love to talk more about it.

  • Susan, that’s great news. Send me an email, happy to discuss. I’m no longer an expert on England, but may have suggestions/tips.

    Best wishes with the business

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