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Old 03-07-2009   #11
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Re: (Why) Have we stopped reading fiction ?

One last thought before I go. In my grandfather's time stories use to start "By the Hokies, there was a man in this place one time by the name of Ned Sullivan, and a queer thing happened to him late one night and he coming up the Valley Road from Durlas." This is how stories used to be told befor they became the modern art forms of the novel and short story. IN our time stories have returned to this kind of tall tale. I mean does anyone really believe that any of those paople in Class Reunion were really in the same class together 20 years ago? Does anyone really believe a word that any of Maury Povich's guests say?We haven't become illiterate. We've returned to the pre-art world of the tall tale.

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Old 03-08-2009   #12
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Re: (Why) Have we stopped reading fiction ?

I'd like to say a few words. Yes, I thought it only happened to me. It looks like I'm finally not alone here. In fact, I read less than 5 years ago, and much more less than 20 years ago.
Why? In my case, my free time to enjoy literature died when my first kid was born. I simply don't have time to read anything else but newspapers once in a while. Whoever has kids knows what I'm saying. And second, I would say that I worked hard for the last 5 or 6 years and whenever I have free time it is just to sleep or go out with my wife. If I read something, it has to be good, and short fiction.
About a few years ago, I started to collect first edition books, and this was absolutely counterproductive. I don't feel like touching the books. However, on this point, I found a solution, which is basically, go back to read cheap paperback editions.
One more on this, I noticed that after having read so much, all fiction looks alike. It is being harder every time I pick a book to find something new, something that amazes me, that makes me wonder as much as when I read my first Poe's tale when I was 16.

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Old 03-08-2009   #13
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Re: (Why) Have we stopped reading fiction ?

Quote Originally Posted by Russell Nash View Post
It is being harder every time I pick a book to find something new, something that amazes me, that makes me wonder as much as when I read my first Poe's tale when I was 16.

I think most of us would be familiar with that feeling.
I still find the odd exciting fiction - often it is only published on the internet.

And there are writers Im always amazed at: Elizabeth Bowen, Thomas Ligotti, Robert Aickman...

And i've been excitd by a whole tranche of good Horror stuff in some new books by new writers recently: eg: by Richard Gavin, Matt Cardin, Gary McMahon, Gary Fry, Simon Strantzas, Mark Samuels ....


....and Tamar Yellin.

It's never too late to cease being jaded with literature.

MY WEBSITE: www.nemonymous.com
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Old 03-08-2009   #14
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Re: (Why) Have we stopped reading fiction ?

I too, believe we all suffer from that feeling which Alberto describes.

I'm only 24 and I suffer from it myself. However, some things can still give me the shakes, even though we (I, at least) get emotionally duller over the years. Some writing still strikes a deep chord within me, though of course, that ecstasy does not manifest itself as often as it did.

I'm not so sure the novel, or the short story for that matter, is dead yet.* After all, it's been pronounced dead so often that it seems unlikely it should happen now, instead of when television, radio or comic books came around. What I do believe is that fewer people will read, and that a larger percentage of the population will cease reading books altogether in the coming years. Those who once read one or two or three books a year mightn't do that now, when there's so much other entertainment to offer.

The novels people read tend to be excessively long, even. Just think about Twilight or Harry Potter, two recent mass-market phenomena. While their literary merit is hardly worth noticing (I guess - apologies to anyone who might like the books), they're still quite long, possibly engrossing affairs.

What I'm trying to say is that people do read. They even read novels, and novels of a considerable length at that. They may be novels that aren't very good novels (possibly better movies), but, they're reading. And the majority of readers have always gone for easily accesible reading material (what people apperently refer to as "a good read" - I for one don't care about "good reads", but I guess I prefer my entertainment to be depressive and cynical).

I'm certain the new technologies have changed our (our meaning "humanity in general") reading a lot, but what and how they have changed it, I'm uncertain of.



*I would like to point out that I prefer the short story or the novella, but that's because few writers' language is interesting enough, vibrant enough, to keep my interest over some 400 pages.
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Old 03-08-2009   #15
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Re: (Why) Have we stopped reading fiction ?

My experience is similar to Des's. There are older works that continue to amaze, and a healthy amount of newer work worth reading and exploring if one knows where to look. I don't think the crop of young writers has been this strong in decades. Many of those you read today will be the one's discussed on message boards tomorrow, I have no doubt.

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Old 03-08-2009   #16
Russell Nash
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Re: (Why) Have we stopped reading fiction ?

I agree with all these ideas, that there is an older generation of very good writers and some new young writers that would still amaze people today and will do in the coming generations.

There was a bookstore I used to buy my books from, where one could find a book for 50 dollars. But, now, the same book can be found on ABE Books for 10, more or less in fine condition. So, I stupidly bought so many good books that I cannot read because they are too many. I even think that if I don't buy more books, I'll have enough for me and my family for years. On this point I see that internet was counterproductive. I even think to turn on my computer only once a week just to have more time for reading.

I also saw that whatever book is in vogue, people read it. Like I saw a receptionist (years ago) reading "Lord of the Rings", the same lady reading "Harry Potter..." number who knows, but that doesn't mean that she reads quality. The best newspaper in Toronto is the Globe and Mail which it is a pleasure to read (sometimes) but the most read is Metro, a free paper, with news that you read and forget soon after.

Do you believe we are in a pre-Matrix era? ...where we cannot unplug our brains from it, from the internet? I can say that from all these books I recently read I don't remember much, and guess what, I still do, for example Dagon by HP Lovecraft, or the Abominations of Yondo, by CA Smith. But these stories belong to a time in my life when I read a few books, and remebered most of what I read.

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Old 03-08-2009   #17
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Re: (Why) Have we stopped reading fiction ?

Being the Village Idiot of the Global Village it is all that I can do to turn on the internet. I don't have too much trouble staying away. Let me add "so far" to that last sentence. This is the only website that I have joined for the comradery. Every post is an education for me. The only other websites that I have joined are the ones where you have to be a member to buy things (and then I get all of their spam.)To continue reading I have had to make choices. I am innocent of much of what passes for culture today. During my work day I read enough intelligence on who is trying to blow up whom so I relish being an electronic hermit. I get more reading done that way."Slow down, you move too fast."

"A Mad World, MY Masters"
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Old 03-09-2009   #18
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Re: (Why) Have we stopped reading fiction ?

The only reason I joined TLO -- the only reason I got on-line -- was because I read and write fiction. It is my life. My mother never ceases to complain about how many books I have (I doubt that I have more than one-thousand) and she moans whenever I return from the University Bookstore with yet another book. & now I have found how easy it is to order books from amazon.com with my bank card. & now Mother is asking "Who is sending you all of those packages?" I smile and answer, "My best friend."

But non-reading is a serious issue. I have been posting at the Norwescon forum -- for our region's largest f&sf convention. There was a time when Norwescon was a real writer's convention. Now, alas, it is a boring "media" and "costume" con. I was on one horror panel about modern horror, and a Goth person on the panel was asked about modern authors, and this person said, "Oh, I don't read fiction." I was appall'd. Instead of book-sellers in the dealer's room, there are mostly outlets for costumes and outre jewelry, and weapons. Book-sellers have become a rarity. But Norwescon is a fan convention, and thus uncouth. At real conventions, such as World Horror Con and World Fantasy Con, the dealer's rooms are mostly book-sellers still. & moft of yem books are works of fiction.

The internet is seductive. I have stupidly join'd too many groups. But every group that I have join'd is related to reading & writing fiction (well, except for the six Streisand groups at Facebook.....). The internet HAS taken me away from reading, it is stealing my time -- especially Facebook, where I have join'd so many Cthulhu and Lovecraft groups, because I am going through this new surge of Lovecraftian creativity & part of its manifestation is my huge need to write about Lovecraft and the Mythos. So I've joined sites where I can ramble about such things. To-night, when I should have been working on the new book, I was reviewing Derleth Mythos books at amazon.com.

At The Haunt, they are predicting that the age of books is coming to an end, and that most small press publishers will become online publishers. I want to support the future of the small PRESS -- and try as I may to think of reading new books only from my laptop screen -- it is a world in which I do not want to exist. Nothing --NOTHING -- soothes me like laying on the sofa or in bed with a book beside me or held in hand. & most of those books are works of fiction. So I don't think the end is here just yet.

"We work in the dark -- we do what we can -- we give what we have. Our doubt is our passion and our passion is our task. The rest is the madness of art."
--Henry James (1843-1916)
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Old 03-09-2009   #19
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Re: (Why) Have we stopped reading fiction ?

Quote Originally Posted by vegetable theories View Post
The real non-fiction world has become more fascinating than the world of fiction.
In the prologue (first published in the first French edition) of J. G. Ballard's "Crash" he writes something that goes like this: (I'm re-translating to English from a Spanish translation)

"We live inside an enormous novel. Each time it is less necessary for the writer to invent fictional content. The fiction is already there. The writer's work is to invent reality"

I most note, though, that I have found myself reading less and less as time goes by; however, I noticed that latter last year and I am doing my best to fix it; I try to read all the time, multiple material.

Anyway, people die...
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I am simply an accident. Why take it all so seriously?
-Emil Cioran

Last edited by Karnos; 03-09-2009 at 02:25 AM..
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Old 03-09-2009   #20
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Re: (Why) Have we stopped reading fiction ?

Quote Originally Posted by Karnos View Post
In the prologue (first published in the first French edition) of J. G. Ballard's "Crash" he writes something that goes like this: (I'm re-translating to English from a Spanish translation)

"We live inside an enormous novel. Each time it is less necessary for the writer to invent fictional content. The fiction is already there. The writer's work is to invent reality"

"In addition, I feel that the balance between fiction and reality has changed significantly in the past decades. Increasingly their roles are reversed. We live in a world ruled by fictions of every kind mass- merchandizing, advertising, politics conducted as a branch of advertising, the pre-empting of any original response to experience by the television screen. We live inside an enormous novel. It is now less and less necessary for the writer to invent the fictional content of his novel. The fiction is already there. The writer's task is to invent the reality."
(third paragraph, from Ballard's introduction to Crash)

I too, at 41 I find less and less time to enjoying literature. And I bought too many books in the last years, many more than I could read.
It seems that life devours your time -- and your old passions -- with increasing voracity...

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