Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The End of Reading?

Wow, have things changed since I wrote about the end of plot. There I was, a little down yesterday because I've been festering about the end of Hamlet and his dad, when I met with a really pessimistic friend, Chauncey Mabe, a writer and long-time editor. You can access his blog at http:\\ He repeated what he wrote in his 3/21/11 post, namely that within two or three generations, we (Americans, the world?) will be functionally illiterate, unable to read sustained works (books and/or newspapers). And to think I was simply concerned about the Prince of Denmark...
Advertising slogans will be just the ticket in this new non-reading world, as they are short and snappy and poetry will gain prominence (every cloud has a silver lining). Even now, Twitter is pushing "twaikus", twitter haikus. The death knell is sounding for "long-form content"--OMG, what a phrase--and those of us "content providers" who are still hooked on books will need to get cracking on a new 140-word writing format or we'll be desperately seeking new jobs!
But in spite of Chauncey and my own doubts, I refuse to believe that longer works will totally disappear. I must say that these 500-600 page bios that are continually rolling off the presses (Mark Twain and Keith Richards)are not exactly reader friendly and even a reader like me who practices total immersion in literature can't stay the course these days. And it is certainly true that there are so many diversions on one's smart phone and IPad that there is little time left over to try out more challenging stuff. But when a millenial's idea of a good read is a friending on Face Book, I'm prepared for "apres moi, le deluge".