Saturday, July 29, 2006

Get 'em while they're hot

So what did I read on that waterlogged day at the beach? My own deathly prose...but no, that's revision, not reading--a necessary distinction, actually, or maybe a fraudulent one. I'm not sure.

Here are some I've read over the past month or so, though, all good:

Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky
Digging to America, by Anne Tyler
The Ha-Ha, by Dave King
Author, Author by David Lodge
And yes, I did read Marley&Me. My dog's really not so ill-behaved, after all.

To buy any of these check out Brazos Bookstore and you'll be helping to support an independent, literary bookstore against the big box takeover of small businesses everywhere.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

They're not reading

Just got back from two rainsoaked days at the beach. It was a multigenerational gathering, from ten year old boys to an 85-year-old grandfather. Fourteen people in one room makes for strange, compulsive behavior, I find. The ones who need food for comfort, nosh. Great stuff for the ten years olds (who don't eat it): glazed donuts in particular. Guess who can't resist them? Hint: everyone older than 16.

What the kids can't resist is their video game--the same sports video game they've been playing for four or five days, whenever they were in the house. The only time it's not going on is when everyone's on the beach (not at all in this weather), or when the adults commandeer the set for a movie or live baseball game, or more crucial, a weather update.

We've created monsters, folks--the medium, not the people. We've embraced TV to give us space from the stress of constantly monitoring of our kids and TV has morphed into video games, which have the added attraction of compulsivity. So now the parents have to pursue their activities to the accompaniment of constant noise from the box. If they have children around all the time, I don't think they even hear it. And the kids, instead of reading and stretching their brains, instead of actually creating something, just burrow into the repetition of a game that goes nowhere.

It goes beyond this, actually. If you want silence in public--so you can read or write or just work on something more complex than Paris Hilton's new whatever without having to expend energy tuning out distractions--just about the only place left is a library. Even the coffee emporia where laptops proliferate pipe in music. My son actually requires music in order to write.

What happens when the power goes out? This is what I want to know. When the power grid is overloaded by the increasing need for airconditioning to protect us from the effects of global warming, what are these children going to do? What if this constant barrage of electronic stimulation has actually altered the hardwiring of the brain? Will they be able to function? Will they be happy in the rising heat, in the steroid plumped houses with a room for every function and twelve foot ceilings and windows that don't open? What will they do with the silence?

Will books still exist?