Thoughts

by Patrick on April 23, 2009

The title of this post says it all.  These are my thoughts, or in some instances, the thoughts of others that I have appropriated and reproduced here for your enjoyment (This being the internet and all):

  • Dan Brown’s new book, which I mentioned in a previous post, will be about the end of the Mayan calendar.  I think this will test a theory of mine:  namely, that The DaVinci Code was successful, at least in part, because of its religious content.  Add to that the fact that this book will be about a Central American culture, and not a European one, and I think we’ll see this book sell a bit less than his previous two.  Just a theory (and I’m sure others have had this theory, too.  I’m not actually claiming I’m the originator of said theory).  I’m happy to be proven wrong.
  • The Millions is concerned with the future of book criticism.  So concerned, in fact, that they’re running a three-part series on it.  Parts 1 and 2 are already up.
  • Kate Christensen on the book Wetlands, which is apparently very big in Germany:  I just learned from a friend as I was whining about how much I can’t finish Wetlands that there are hugging cafes in Berlin where lonely people go to be hugged by strangers who are there for the same purpose; have you all heard of this already? I have a feeling that the popularity of this weird, pathetic, babyish fad dovetails somehow with the runaway success of this book over there, people allegedly fainting in readings, how many copies sold? Thanks to Julie for the link.  Oh, and have I mentioned that Kate will be at Vroman’s on June 29? I have now.
  • Ever since I saw Adventureland, I’ve been on a major Replacements kick.  As such, check out this awesome outtake version of Can’t Hardly Wait:  

    And while you are at it, read Gillian’s review of the film:  I was planning on including a paragraph here about how the female characters were all somewhat detestable, but that really wasn’t the case, I think I just want it to be.  Actually, Em is probably the most complex character in the film and even though she does make poor choices and behave irrationally at moments, that is easily attributable to the fact that she is human, not that she is a woman.  This can often be a problem with feminist theorizing: it can backfire and have you (me) end up demonizing women instead of…you know, not doing that which is the whole point.

  • There’s lots of internet chatter about this ebook article in the Wall Street Journal online by Steven Johnson.  The short summary is that he’s pretty impressed with ebooks and thinks they represent the biggest thing to happen to publishing since the printing press.  Normally, this is the kind of article I would unpack and examine and respond to with some analyses of my own, but, well, I’m super busy today.  So Steven Johnson gets a pass.  (I will take issue with this, though:  “Reading books will go from being a fundamentally private activity — a direct exchange between author and reader — to a community event, with every isolated paragraph the launching pad for a conversation with strangers around the world.”  This rhetoric of the internet being about communicating with people in far-flung places has got to stop.  The internet, it seems to me, is fundamentally local.  You talk to the same people online that you talk to in everyday life.  I talk to my wife online dozens of times a day.  I have a friend who moved to Barcelona last year.  When he lived in LA, we talked on Facebook with some regularity.  Now he lives in Barcelona, and we talk with less regularity.  Some of this is because I’m a bad friend, and I suffer from major out-of-sight, out-of-mind syndrome, but it’s also because I’ve found that Facebook and Twitter and blogging are all excellent supplements to my physical world.  In other words, the internet isn’t a separate place.  I’ve fallen victim to this thinking before, and I’m determined now to stop.  Let’s all stop.)  Read Rich’s post in response to Johnson’s.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Paul G. Bens, Jr. 04.23.09 at 5:38 pm

New reader to the blog after attending Vroman’s reading with Alan Brennert for “Honolulu.”

Just wanted to pop in, wave and say that I agree with your assessment of Dan Brown’s new book.

Alessandro Cima 04.23.09 at 10:19 pm

I’m not sure I can agree with your suggestion that the internet is fundamentally local. I have not had that experience. In fact, I have worked on very lengthy projects involving enormous technical detail with people all over the world who to this day I have never met. I would in fact consider it something of a waste of time to fly somewhere to meet them. I suspect the internet is local for you because you work in a bookstore which is an inherently local business. But I think for me and for most of the people I work with the internet is certainly a worldwide tool.

Rich Rennicks 04.24.09 at 4:55 am

“I’ve found that Facebook and Twitter and blogging are all excellent supplements to my physical world. In other words, the internet isn’t a separate place.” — Amen, brother. The only people who think online is a separate world aren’t online for more than business email.

Patrick 04.24.09 at 8:39 am

Alessandro, certainly you’re right that the internet enables easy work and communication on a global level. My point is simply that many people (I still think most people) use social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter to communicate with the people in their local areas at least as much as they do those in foreign countries. It’s certainly easier for me to keep up with my friend in Barcelona (or the friends I have in Georgia, Maine, New York and Okinawa), but if I were to make a pie-chart of my internet usage, a large portion of it would be communicating with people I see on a daily or weekly basis. And I don’t think I’m alone in that.

And yes, certainly the nature of our business dictates how we use the web. In the end, the internet is there for however you feel like using it.

Alessandro Cima 04.25.09 at 8:43 am

Yes, I see what you mean. I think you’re right. I do tend to use the internet as a separate realm that flings me around the world, but that’s probably because I know so few people in person!

By the way, I am really enjoying this blog. I’ve been checking it every single day for several weeks. Since I’m in LA, I am going to have to come and actually buy some books at the store soon. Have a good weekend.

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