Friday, August 10, 2012

On ephemera.

Something about being around footprints and sandcastles makes me think of the importance of permanence to a writer. We don't write our novels on train trellises (trelli?) or bathroom walls. A novel is not graffiti, just waiting for the inevitable painting over. We expect novels to last, because they take so long to write, build, bind. And yet. Have you ever been at a campground and witnessed someone throwing away the first half of a paperback to lighten their backpack? This is what e-books are: the lightening of our loads. The cleanliness, the refreshment of that is what tempts. But by making novels electronic, have we accidentally pitched them forward, light-speeding them, pinballing ahead? Do e-books force plots to go faster? Do they make sentences slide by before we appreciate them? This is how the journalist feels, the here-today-gone-tomorrow. Are we doing this now, with novels? Or are we betting that the experience will last, even as the form mutates?

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