Literary fictions not dead
Over at Robert Yune’s internet pad, Sal Pane rounds out the Robert-curated colloquium on the question of whether literary fiction is dead or not.
I was glad to see Sal pick up on the idea of entertainment in other media crowding fiction out. This was a point I felt strongly about, and maybe wanted to hit harder, but didn’t because it was really just an aside in the greater context of my entry in the series.
It’s made me remember a blog post I read not too long ago, arguing the issue of whether reading a book was inherently superior to playing a video game. (As these things go, I can’t pinpoint whose blog it was, much less find the link. I want to say it was the Atlantic blog of Ta-Nehisi Coates, whose writing I like a lot (but whose spelling makes my heart hurt), but I can’t be sure of that.)
The specific argument that sticks in my mind is this hypothetical: Imagine the criticisms of books if video games—the highly evolved, textured, complex and subtle ones that are coming out now; not Duck Hunt—were the dominant medium, and the book was an upstart form. The interface is incredibly passive. A book only stimulates one part of the child’s brain; there’s no visual stimulation. There’s zero motor-skill usage in the act of reading a book. And so on. The argument didn’t even touch on the Wii and the prospect of video games that are exercise, rather than keeping kids from exercising. Read the rest of this entry »