Science, Fiction, and points in between
§ Salon July 29
§ Feed July 22
...if you take into consideration the population increase and disregard the surfeit of children's books the picture changes drastically. ... Measuring the size of the "adult book pool" -- i.e., the number of adult titles published per million adults since 1945 -- reveals that book industry output did indeed jump substantially in the early '60s, a phenomenon consistent with the much-vaunted "culture explosion" that Alvin Toffler hailed in 1964. Yet since the mid-'70s the figure has stayed virtually the same. In the period 1975 to 1995, while overall title output increased some 60%, the adult book pool increased less than 7%, from 317 to 339 books per million.
(Thu 29 Jul 1999)
When young writers write to me about following in the footsteps of those of us who string together nouns and verbs for a living, I tell them this: every story has already been told.
(Tue 20 Jul 1999)
§ Salon July 16
It's enough to remind you of the (true) story of the architect who, as a professional, designs thorny modern buildings, but prefers to live with his family in a rambling old country house. And it begs a question: How can we account for the widespread illusion many of us have of an ongoing literary world? In architecture, it's an open secret that the buildings that are sold to us as "architecture" (as opposed to mere "building") aren't the ones that people find comfortable, delightful, pleasant or well-built. Instead, they're the buildings that photograph well and that give critics and journalists plenty to write about. With books, could it be that many of the writers who win the most enthusiastic coverage aren't the ones whose books are enjoyed most by knowledgeable, educated readers, but are instead the ones who, whether consciously or not, write to get literary notice and win literary prizes?
Alternate Lunar History
In ancient days, men looked at stars and saw their heroes in the constellations. In modern times, we do much the same, but our heroes are epic men of flesh and blood.
(Fri 16 Jul 1999)
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