Read The Late American Novel: Writers on the Future of Books by JeffMartin C. Max Magee Kyle Beachy John Brandon Sonya Chung Elizabeth Crane Rudolph Delson Rivka Galchen Online


The way we absorb information has changed dramatically. Edison’s phonograph has been reincarnated as the iPod. Celluloid went digital. But books, for the most part, have remained the same—until now. And while music and movies have undergone an almost Darwinian evolution, the literary world now faces a revolution, a sudden change in the way we buy, produce, and read books.SThe way we absorb information has changed dramatically. Edison’s phonograph has been reincarnated as the iPod. Celluloid went digital. But books, for the most part, have remained the same—until now. And while music and movies have undergone an almost Darwinian evolution, the literary world now faces a revolution, a sudden change in the way we buy, produce, and read books.Scholars, journalists, and publishers have turned their brains inside out in the effort to predict what lies ahead, but who better to comment on the future of the book than those who are driven to write them?In The Late American Novel, Jeff Martin and C. Max Magee gather some of today’s finest writers to consider the sea change that is upon them. Lauren Groff imagines an array of fantastical futures for writers, from poets with groupies to novelists as vending machines. Rivka Galchen writes about the figurative and literal death of paper. Joe Meno expounds upon the idea of a book as a place set permanently aside for the imagination, regardless of format. These and other original essays by Reif Larsen, Benjamin Kunkel, Victoria Patterson, and many more provide a timely and much-needed commentary on this compelling cultural crossroad....

Title : The Late American Novel: Writers on the Future of Books
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ISBN : 9781593764043
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 165 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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The Late American Novel: Writers on the Future of Books Reviews

  • karen
    2018-12-30 09:12

    to know me at all is to know my opinion about e-readers. i'm an old sentimental fool when it comes to books. i like to see them stacked all over my apartment, like friends. or more specifically like my "friends" - many of these books are here and i know nothing about them except i brought them into my space because at one time i thought they would be interesting or useful, and then a lotta them just stood around silently. but i like having them herei like their potential.sure, i could probably put most of these books on an e-reader. i could have my very own nook. and it would have all of my friends accessible inside of it. but then, how would i choose?? i like not knowing which book i am going to read next. i like browsing through my home-stacks as though they were part of a library or bookstore - picking them up, holding them, carefully selecting which one i will read next, drawn to their color or some other part of their physicality that is speaking to me at that moment - remembering where i bought each volume and what was going on in my life at that time that would have led me to buy such a book. it is a sentimental and nostalgic journey for me that scrolling through a typed list could never replicate.besides - i have seen my netflix queue - i know the madness of which i am capable. if you give me the chance to just click things and add them to a list - there are going to be a lot of poorly made choices. and i won't ever delete them, because it feels so final. there are movies i have been pushing down my netflix queue for five years now. and with books it would be even worse - i would add them in a fit of optimism or whim and then they would be there... always... trapped and unread. it's too casual a relationship to books for me. i like my way better, even though it is all going to collapse one day and send me tumbling into my downstairs neighbor's apartment, and he already doesn't like me, so there will be frowns and fist-shakings.but the book.this is a collection of twenty or so authors discussing the rise of the machines and the future of book-as-objects and the quality of literature. it is definitely food for thought, and i recommend this to anyone in the business of books.some essays present a very positive future in a world where the e-reader is king, some are shrugged neutrality, but my favorites, naturally, are the ones full of paranoia and animosity.lauren groff's is probably my favorite, with her 16-point essay "modes of imagining the writer of the future", my favorite of which is number three:"the writer of the future will sell her wares on the dog-crotted sidewalks of city streets, desperately flinging open her trench coat to reveal advance reading copies, braving the disgusted or averted faces of the more respectable kinds of pedestrians to whom french flaps or deckle edges mean nothing even remotely titillating."that future is no future for me.but i like other essays, too - particularly joshua gaylord's "enduring literature" full of great distinctions"maybe liking books is different from liking reading, the two things only arbitrarily related by their physical proximity - a proximity becoming increasingly less common. and maybe it's possible to be an aficionado of one without the other. maybe books and reading should, ultimately and always, be considered separately."i have a weakness for both books-as-objects and reading, but i understand his point, and i have plenty of books here that are just here for show: my collection of jonathan carroll in greek and japanese, my multiple "pretty" copies of jude the obscure and wuthering heights...but he's still totally on my side of the fence:"in my more pessimistic moments, i see it as a gradual softening over time. not as a dumbing down - i don't see the world becoming less intelligent or intellectual, but rather simply less patient. in my most dystopian nightmares, i picture literature packaged so conveniently that you could consume it like a vitamin pill - without even having to take the trouble to read it."there is a young'un who works in a bookstore who was overheard saying how "reading takes too much time", and he would rather just watch a video of a book.not even a movie.a video.i know it is a generational thing, although he can't be more than fifteen years younger than me, but it is worth considering people like this when contemplating the future of books.which is why i appreciated tom piazza's curmudgeonly "interview." it made me laugh and groan with recognition:"...i like books that i can hold in my hand. made of paper. i don't need to plug them in, and i don't have to buy batteries for them. they look different from each other, and i like that. i like looking at bleak house and being able to tell that it embodies a different sense of life that jesus' son does. i like carrying the fuckers around with me. one weighs more than the other. if you like to read your books on an etch a sketch, that's fine with me. especially if you're reading my books. but it's like looking at a book of paintings where guernica is the same size as a holbein portrait. you get no sense of the scale of things, of the nature of the author's ambition."and this statement doesn't strike me as an elitist qualitative opinion, i think it is more one about scope and effort. after finishing bleak house, you can hold it in your hand and think "that was a massive book and i read it." when i see all my prousts lined up, i can say: "i did it - yayyy!" the experience doesn't translate to an e-reader. and maybe that isn't important to other people, maybe they have other ways in which to measure their self-worth. me, i do not. so i gotta look at all my books to feel good about myself.more from piazza:"the computer is neutral in that it gives you access to limitless amounts of information, but the one requirement is that you have to get it on the computer. the information has no smell, no weight, no texture. nothing that seriously impinges on your reality. people think it represents some kind of democratizing of information because everything's the same size. but democracy is when things of different sizes get a chance to mix it up and work it out, measure themselves in their respective strengths. if everything is the same size, there's no perspective." well-put.and a good way to end this "review" rant.except to say - if the technology gods are listening, and if they heard me last week in my head as i was moving seven different sections around in the library - huffing and sweating and allll alone - if they heard me say, "this would be easier if this shit was all on a kindle" - disregard it. you have not won me - it was a moment of weakness and selfishness and exhaustion.i have not been broken.

  • Lisa Brown
    2018-12-28 05:18

    This was an impulse buy off the "employee recommendations" display at my local Barnes & Noble while killing time before seeing "Thor" in 3D. One look at the cover art, and I couldn't very well not buy it. Throw in the fact that I've been kicking around the idea of entitling my thesis "This Is Not a Book: Reading as Tactile Experience and the Fetishization of Print," and it's fairly obvious that this particular book was tailor-made for me.Happily, it did not disappoint.The common consensus appears to be that the bulk of the book is dedicated to a bunch of bibliophiles waxing David Foster Wallace-esque about their love of the book as an object/art form. Ain't gonna lie: That's more or less true. But so what? The fact of the matter is that the book as an object and/or art form is more than worthy of exaltation and all the praise one can manage to heap upon it. And with David Foster Wallace gone, why shouldn't other writers at least attempt to carry that torch? But while The Late American Novel certainly appeals to my fellow bibliophiles, the earliest of early adopters and the most elite of technocrats could undoubtedly take something worthwhile away from this easily digestible, well-under-200-page read.While I was initially skeptical upon reading the first paragraph of the introduction, in which Martin and Magee appear to completely miss the mark with respect to the infamous F. Scott Fitzgerald quote, "There are no second acts in American lives," tying it into the notion of a cultural comeback rather than the three-act structure of American drama, it was an interpretative mistake that was easy enough to forgive since everything else was pithy, spot-on, and exceptionally well-written.I could quote passage after passage of the book in an attempt to entice you, but I'd hate to give too much away. The essays range from vibrant enthusiasm and an embracing of technological advances and the wealth of new possibilities they bring to the downright luddite in nature, and all make valid enough points. There's even something to appeal to those with a post-modern/post-po-mo/meta bent.That childhood favorite of anyone raised in the 1980s, Choose Your Own Adventure, plays fairly heavily, so that ought to be an incentive to pick up a copy right there.Perhaps my favorite essay of the lot is "The Crying of Page 45." First things first, a solid Pynchon reference means I'm pretty much sold straight out of the gate. But then there are diagrams, illustrations, tongue-in-cheek humor, references to the near-forgotten art of textual illumination, old school Mac pop-ups ... it's a thing of beauty, really....and I just added ~45 books to my "to-read" list thanks to this book, so that should tell you something.

  • Mark
    2018-12-31 12:06

    Booklovers are a bit disoriented these days, between the rise of the e-book and the collapse of the physical bookseller Borders. Are these trends truly related? And what does that mean for the future of books? The independent publisher Soft Skull Press wins the award for breathtaking timeliness. They have just published a collection of essays, "The Late American Novel: Writers on the Future of Books". Twenty-five authors consider not just the future of the novel and imaginative writing, but also that of the physical book. Not surprisingly, although there is some pessimism, these writers, and I would guess most of their readers, cannot imagine a world without books (and novels) in some form or another. One of the founders of n+1, Marco Roth, puts it best in his essay "The Outskirts of Progress":"The "future of the book" is, by definition, unknowable. There are only attitudes towards the future which shape possible futures from the vantage of the present: foully apocalyptic, silvery utopian, cautiously conservationist. These attitudes can even coexist within each of us. The crisis of the book is really a crisis of our free will to culture. If we commit ourselves to the culture of thought, inquiry, and rhetorical expression that arose in conjunction with the written word, inevitably we'll carry books with us in whatever shape, and inevitably we'll want to "access them" and compose them in their traditional bound and printed form, if only to feel a shimmer of connection to earlier human generations." Of this last point, I'm not so sure--I can easily imagine physical books slipping away, or at least becoming luxury items. I cannot abide physical newspapers now, because I cannot interact with them. When I read a newspaper online, I clip bits and pieces to Evernote to remember, I share articles with friends, or evaluate the tone of comments piling up at the end of an article. I think it is possible that as the reading of ebooks becomes a social experience, I may feel the same way about printed books. But then, I am a collector, and I cannot imagine having something physical to put on my bookshelves. At the end, though, I think Joe Meno speaks for most readers when he says, "For me, a book, in whatever form it takes--hardbound copy, paperback, electronic version, online instrument, text downloaded on a cellphone, even a story read orally--a book is actually a place, a place where we, as adults, still have a chance to engage in active imagining, translating word to image, connecting these images to memories, dreams, and larger ideas."

  • Sara Q
    2018-12-21 05:05

    Saw this mentioned by the editor here: this book. A collection of essays from various writers about the future of writing, reading, and the hallowed book itself. Some were funny, some were moody, some were fantasy and nostalgia combined. I enjoyed something from each of them, and found a lot to think about, as well as breadcrumb trails into other books that are now added to my "to read" list. I also enjoyed the irony of reading this book (that compares paper novels to iPad equivalents) as an ebook in the Kindle app on my iPad, while hoping to get a paper copy to "keep" someday. The last essay had some images with the text that would probably have worked better on paper. I would love to read these essays again a year from now to see how these musings on a present future sound by then.

  • Pete Meyers
    2018-12-31 10:26

    Meh. I was really psyched when I heard about this book: most "future of the book" conversations leave out the perspective of actual writers. But the dozen or so essays in this collection are mainly paeans to the physical book: its smell, the way it lets us take notes in the margin, its heft, etc. I wanted to hear more about, well, the future of books and instead mainly heard about why print books are great. A few essays worth reading do stand out: Kyle Beachy "The Extent of Our Decline" (on the everlasting communion between writer and reader, regardless of what package the book's delivered in); Ander Monson " and the Playing of Book" (how writers should start participating in all aspects of bookmaking: design, production, etc.); and Reif Larsen "The Crying of Page 45" (some essay-ending thoughts on how digital books might enhance the reading experience).

  • Shelf Magazine
    2019-01-17 10:21

    The written word’s last big format change turned out to be a pretty big deal, fomenting revolutions and laying the groundwork for modern civil society, the scientific revolution, and modernity itself. Gutenberg’s big coup sent shock waves through palace halls across Europe(though, it should be noted, movable type printing had been invented earlier in Asia) and soon reverberated around the globe. With the advent of e-readers, near infinite data storage capability, and a shift to a more sustainable and digitized culture, a sea change is upon us. Will books survive, and in what form?Read the rest of the review in our August/September issue.

  • Elizabeth
    2019-01-16 09:06

    This was a fun anthology that wasn't at all heavy handed but had some creative pieces and expressed some familiar ideas in novel ways that made them resonate for me. I feel that many of its pieces might be easily understood by someone who wasn't necessarily inclined to think about these things on a theoretical level (e.g., disentangling book objects from their content). For me, who thinks about these things all of the time, it was refreshing to read a collection that took such ideas seriously, but wasn't afraid to also treat them with irreverence.

  • Sara Cutaia
    2018-12-27 10:03

    Book-lovers and writers alike need to read these essays! They're funny and thought-provoking, timely and timeless. Before I even finished this, I was flipping to certain essays to quote a line or to reference a point an author made. These are smart and fun and important essays written by smart and fun and important authors. I love books, and I don't hate e-readers. And I'll read essays debating the future of both as long as people are willing to write them.

  • Oliver
    2018-12-30 12:58

    There are more hits than misses in this little collection of essays on the future of books/literature/writing/humanity. The majority are guilty of preaching to the choir, and some say as much -- I mean, who except a hopeful and slightly frightened book lover is going to read something like this? Bonus feature: It's peppered with good reading recommendations.

  • Amber
    2018-12-28 11:25

    Eh. There was a lot hype surrounding this book. They have a stable of solid writers, but the book just didn't do it for me. Most of them were...meaningless and rambles. I wish The Millions wouldn't published a book of its essays instead this weak mediation on the future of books

  • Krista Buccellato
    2019-01-07 12:12

    Loved it. So incredibly interesting. As with any collection some pieces appealed to me more than others. But I very much enjoyed reading the insight of these authors into the fate of their long standing (and quickly evolving) medium.

  • Rebecca Schwarz
    2018-12-22 13:08

    I really enjoyed this collection of essays. Most were quite short and not all were fawning over physical book-as-object (though some were). A nice range of opinions about the state of novels in this time of changing formats.

  • Mark
    2018-12-21 10:10

    This is a good book. I don't have much else to say on it; it didn't inspire me, it didn't show me some element in the realm of reading and/or novels. It was a fun read, and it reaffirmed to me that novels will always be around in some form or another.

  • Maryanne
    2018-12-30 05:16

    The essays I read were interesting, but I've already forgotten most and didn't read them all. Important topic, though. Gave my copy to a writing professor.

  • Hector Ibarraran
    2019-01-15 11:05

    A couple of good essays, but mostly people who are afraid of change or just plain don't get it. The final essay was almost great, but it was merely good. I read this book on my phone. Ha!