The murmur of the snarkmatrix…

August § The Common Test / 2016-02-16 21:04:46
Robin § Unforgotten / 2016-01-08 21:19:16
MsFitNZ § Towards A Theory of Secondary Literacy / 2015-11-03 21:23:21
Jon Schultz § Bless the toolmakers / 2015-05-04 18:39:56
Jon Schultz § Bless the toolmakers / 2015-05-04 16:32:50
Matt § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-05 01:49:12
Greg Linch § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 18:05:52
Robin § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 05:11:02
P. Renaud § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 04:13:09
Jay H § Matching cuts / 2014-10-02 02:41:13

Novels in the naughts

I liked this piece by Sam Anderson about the shift in novels in the 2000s. Partly it’s because of our shared affinity for The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. But mostly it’s because he sounds, throughout, rather like a bookfuturist:

TV, in comparison, looks like a fairly simple adversary: Its flickering images lure readers away from books altogether. The Internet, on the other hand, invades literature on its home turf. It has created, in the last ten years, all kinds of new and potent rival genres of reading—the blog, the chat, the tweet, the comment thread—genres that seem not only to siphon our attention but to change the way our brains process text.

Also, I have to say, this rings 100% true for me:

Books formed under the attentional pressure of the Internet tend to devote disproportionate energy to style; if you can’t assume that your readership is going to stick with you beyond a paragraph or two, it’s probably smart to load that paragraph with maximum pizzazz.

I’ve started calling this “the paranoia of the screen.” It doesn’t necessarily serve you well on the printed page; I think readers of Annabel Scheme might find themselves wondering, like, what’s the rush? But it does flow naturally from writing blog posts and reading Jakob Nielsen. (Eep!)

(Also, love the meta-awareness here: Anderson’s bit about paragraph-level pizzazz is itself a gem of a graf.)


Tim Carmody says…

“Paranoia of the screen” is tops. Something similar happened in the first part of the twentieth century, when you started to see novels written in telegraph style, plus lots of fragmented, attention-grabbing disjunctions, borrowed from advertising, newspapers, catalogues, card indices, etc. Just as with the internet, the anxiety of the copywriter is that you could always look somewhere else.

Ulysses is a great example of this, especially the “Aeolus” chapter, which is set in a newsroom. Leopold Bloom, the modern Odysseus, is an advertising canvasser for the newspaper. 🙂

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