Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Corrosions: Franzen on E(vil)-Books

"Franzen, trying to conjure up a plot against the E-Book."

Ok, I never post twice in one week since I have so much writing to do. But I came upon the article in the Guardian about Jonathan Franzen shitting all over e-Books, calling them corrosive to our moral values or some such high-brow, professorial, MFA (and I have one) inspired, totally out of fucking touch with reality commentary. Can you imagine how positively rooted in the past this guy is?

Hey Jonathan: it's not how we read the book, it's the book itself that counts. The story. Words on a page. Doesn't matter if the page is a cave wall or papyrus or paper or some digital screen. It's a fucking book. A book written by a writer who had a story to tell. 

Maybe I shouldn't be so shocked with JF's ignorance. After all, how many people never accepted the automobile into their lives? Or the radio? The Beatles? The television? The home computer that Mr. F writes his rather, well, snoozy novels on? Perhaps he should simply get out of the e-Book market if that's the way he feels. Currently, his e-Books are selling better than his paper. It would be up to him.

Franzen claims he doesn't connect at all to the Internet when he writes and that writers who do so are hurting themselves. Thanks for that. I'll remember to shut mine off. But you know what? The Internet comes in awfully handy when my work requires a bit of quick research. You just have to maintain a little discipline and not be tempted to check your email or look at porn for that matter.

Anyway, old JF (who is about my age) has made himself out to be a real wholesome, old fashioned guy with great hair and awesome values. God, what a swell guy. With his serious convictions against the modern technology devil, he comes off sounding like Joe McCarthy, or worse, my mother. Ok, I'll catch shit for that. But I say it because millions upon millions of e-Readers have been sold in the recent months and years. And for the first time in ages, people are really reading, both children and the elderly who could not read the fine print in traditional paper books. Reading is cool again, saving trees is cool, and lots of people would rather turn on their Kindle Fire than watch another rerun of Friends.

Also, a whole lot of writers are experiencing a golden age of readers who are discovering their work and loving it. If not for the e-reader, a lot of writers would not be making ends meet. I used to be one of them. I wonder if JF owns a cell phone? I wonder if he has cable television? I know he has a computer and the Internet, or else he wouldn't be tempted to turn it off when he writes. Maybe it's not the Internet or e-Books that he needs to do without. Maybe he needs some Ritalin or whatever to cure ADHD. Maybe that's the root of his problem. But then, he probably wouldn't trust the drug. Because mark my word, Ritalin, along with e-Books will cause the downfall of man.

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  1. I saw that article this morning. It elicited an eye roll and a piffle. Whatever!


  2. Here's the thing: the internal combustion engine trumped the horse; the light bulb trumped the candle, but we still have horses and candles. Hardcopy books will play out in the exact same manner. Their obsolescence will imbue them with a comforting nostalgia.

    As for Franzen, do you suppose he still uses a hard copy of the Encyclopedia Britannica? What a tool.

  3. He's one of those hermit-writer guys, who aren't all that much different from hermits period. I think it's a weird stance motivated by the success he had. He doesn't NEED ebooks, so he allows himself to look at them from his pedestal.

    I'm a huge fan of his novels, so I wrote him an open letter on my blog last week (I know, futile). I mention you in it, though. Thought you might want to read it: