Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Lots of Writers, Few Readers

Love what Gary Shteyngart says in the Fresh Air interview with Terry Gross about the dying culture of books, or more accuratety the dying culture of readers of novels and our mind unable to keep up with the amount of information being thrown at it (btw he isn't a technophobe).

Mr. SHTEYNGART: Yeah, no, it's so depressing. I feel like I'm insane to write novels. I'm like one of those, you know, those last Japanese soldiers on one of those islands who's like hiding in a cave and still shooting at the Americans, are advancing, he still hasn't heard that the emperor has surrendered. That's what I feel like all the time. I'm one of those guys.
But sometimes technology outpaces sort of the humanity's ability to process it. You know, I think that's where we are right now. I know that's where I am right now, because my mind has been sliced and diced in so many ways.
There's so many packets of information coming at me, especially in a city like New York, which is so dense with information no matter where you go. I mean, even our cabs have television screens and info centers built into the backseat.

You know, and it's just shocking. How is literature supposed to survive when our brain has been pummeled with information, sliced and diced with it all day long at work, if we're white-collar workers? We go home. Are we really going to open up a thick text with 350 pages and try to waddle through it? Or are we just going to turn on "Mad Men"? ...

GROSS: So what do you think of the idea of doing a trailer to sell a book? Mr.

SHTEYNGART: Well, nowadays nobody wants to read books, so anything you can do to sell book, whatever it takes to communicate to people that, you know, hey, books still exist. I mean, the trailer had nothing do with my novel, obviously, but the idea was to sort of get across, hey, Gary Shteyngart, he's OK, you know, he can make fun of himself.

Another thing that I think the trailer is sort of making fun of is that everyone is a writer now. You know, everyone's a writer. Nobody wants to read, but everybody wants to write. These MFA programs, we can't, you know, we can't turn them away. There's just millions of applicants. Everybody wants to be a writer. It's this huge culture of self-expression.
This is the hilarious trailer Shteyngart talks about, which I loved when it first came out:

Listen to the whole interview.

I also like what Shteyngart take on becoming one's parents:
"In the end, you really are them [even] with all of the things you've done to not be them."

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