This Is So Stupid, Part II

I’m not a big ebook fan for myriad reasons—including my dislike of John Locke and his $.99 empire and the fact that my memory is shit when it comes to reading on a screen—but I don’t think any of my concerns overlap with those of Jonathan Franzen:

The acclaimed and bestselling novelist, who denies himself access to the internet when writing, was talking at the Hay festival in Cartagena, Colombia. “Maybe nobody will care about printed books 50 years from now, but I do. When I read a book, I’m handling a specific object in a specific time and place. The fact that when I take the book off the shelf it still says the same thing – that’s reassuring,” said Franzen, according to the Telegraph.

“Someone worked really hard to make the language just right, just the way they wanted it. They were so sure of it that they printed it in ink, on paper. A screen always feels like we could delete that, change that, move it around. So for a literature-crazed person like me, it’s just not permanent enough.”

OK, sure. Permanence. Thanks, J-Franz for once again conveying the fact to the world that you are a Victorian. (Both in terms of writing and thinking.) Even the title of this piece is strangely pre-1900 sounding: “Jonathan Franzen warns ebooks are corroding values.”

This reminds me of my favorite moment from this year’s MLA conference, when David Shields was teeing off on contemporary American writers in general (and Franzen in particular) who seemed unaware of aesthetic advancements from the past hundred years. As Shields said, it’s totally fine to write a novel like Freedom, but what’s the point of doing something so blatantly outdated?

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