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Bookmark Now: Writing in Unreaderly Timesby Kevin Smokler
Synopses & Reviews
An anthology of original essays from our most intriguing young writers, Bookmark Now boldly addresses the significance of the production of literature in the twenty-first century. Or simply, "How do we talk about writing and reading in an age where they both seem almost quaint?"
The book features authors in their twenties and thirties — those raised when TV, video games, and then the Internet supplanted books as dominant cultural mediums — and their intent is to examine: (1) how this generation came to writing as a calling, (2) what they see as literature's relevance when media consumption and competition have reached unprecedented levels, and (3) how writing and reading fit in with the rest of our rapid, multitasking world.
The result offers a voyeuristic peek into the private, creative lives of today's writers and sheds light on what their work means at a time when the book business is changing, yet — almost paradoxically — a time when storytelling as a means of both self-realization and community building (be it via e-mail, weblogs, or This American Life) seems more relevant than ever before.
Edited by Kevin Smokler, a Bay Area entrepreneur who has devoted himself to fostering literary culture and cultivating fresh talent, Bookmark Now is a collection that both captures the state of the art and provides inspiration to aspiring writers at all levels.
"The goal of this collection of essays from some of America's younger or emerging novelists is to disprove the dire warnings regarding the disappearance of a reading public. Smokler, a book critic and commentator, passionately sets the tone when he assails the sense of impending catastrophe that has gripped the literati since the 2004 publication of the NEA report Reading at Risk, which he accuses of double-talk. He brings together writers who, faced with other choices — careers in film, video production, the vast landscape of Internet possibilities — still opted to pursue writing as a career. This is a varied bunch, from Christian Bauman, who tells of discovering Hemingway as a soldier in Somalia untutored in literature, to Paul Flores, a Latino spoken-word artist who began writing in response to California's Proposition 187, which denied public education to immigrants. These writers have used all available avenues — MFA programs, stints as journalists, blogs, exposure to other countries and cultures — to find their subject matter and voices, whether lyrical, such as bestselling author Tracy Chevalier, or satirical, as in Robert Lanham's The Hipster Handbook. In addition to showcasing individual talents, the book illustrates a generational posture: these writers are relaxed and confident in their audience. Most write with ease and immediacy, as if the space between writer and reader has grown measurably closer. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"If you're a writer, Bookmark is pure inspirational power juice. If you're a reader (we know you're out there), it provides lots of heartening evidence that literature isn't dead, and that novelists can be just as entertaining as Dave Chappelle." Marc Weingarten, Los Angeles Times
"...since I've never been on time for any cultural trend in my life, I'd rather be at the party now, with great potential just ahead, than in some imagined past where a nation read together, authors walked as gods on earth and publishers went home fat and happy every afternoon." -from the Introduction
The sky is NOT caving in on American letters. Far from it. The immensely talented writers in this collection all came of age professionally in the last decade — and all chose reading and writing over another more lucrative and decidedly flashier pursuits. They became producers and consumers of the written word at the most media-saturated time in history, a time when books face greater cultural competition than ever before. Why? How did they come to writing as a calling? What's the relevance of literature when the very term seems quaint? Bookmark Now answers these questions — and many more you probably never thought to ask. Like: What to do when your rabid fans start writing fiction about you? Why don't you have to choose between John Updike and Grand Theft Auto? And, Can you really get paid for it?
The end result is not only a voyeuristic peek into the creative lives of today's writers, but a timely glimpse into a changing book business. Storytelling, it will become clear — as a means of self-realization, community building, or simply putting one's point across — is NOW more relevant than ever before.
A few big names in fiction, a handful of below-the-radar faves, and a lot of writers to watch discuss why books? why now?” in this collective credo about the future of literature
Offering a voyeuristic peek into the private, creative lives of today's 20-something and 30-something writers, this volume sheds light on what their work means at a time when the book business is changing, and yet storytelling via e-mail and weblogs seems more relevant than ever.
About the Author
Kevin Smokler's writing has appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, The Believer, ReadyMade, and on National Public Radio. He lives in San Francisco, California.
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