I'm 35 books behind

Posted on May 16, 2012 at 10:21 am by Herb Zlotogorski 2 Comments

According to an article in this week’s NYTimes, writers are churning out books at an ever-increasing rate to keep up with the voracious demand of the public. Where once a writer could breathe a deep sigh of satisfaction at having written one book per year, now they are aiming for – gulp – at least two!

Just reading the article, my pulse started racing, my breathing accelerated, and my brain stuttered out the math: at this rate, I am, by my count, a mere 35 books behind (as I started Hiding Places 18 years ago.)  Better get crackin’!

So I took a deep breath (yes, I do practice what I preach) and considered:  It’s wonderful that there are still so many readers who can’t get enough of the written word, no matter how it’s delivered, whether on paper or via Kindle and Nook. I also know that frustrated impatience of getting to the end of a beloved book and wanting  More! More! from the author. Many times as a reader, I’ve had to resign myself to wait however long until the next installment arrived, or, worse, to the fact that the sequel would live only in my imagination. But isn’t that life? “You can’t always get what you want” the song says. Well, maybe today you can.

How often did you go to the movies when you were little? I remember going rarely, maybe once or twice a year. Consequently, each was An Event, clearly etched into my memory: what the theater looked like, who I went with, how I felt. And afterwards, replaying it over and over in my mind, puzzling over parts of the story, wondering, analyzing. If I missed something or wanted to check something, I had to wait until another opportunity arose. Even feature films were screened on TV only intermittently. I remember the eager anticipation of planning them into the schedule, and the excitement of sitting down to watch them on the hulking TV, (no This is well below the three percent that the “bean counters” running the corporate casino s care to relinquish to the players. multitasking!), and then replaying them over and over in my mind. I think they loomed larger in my consciousness because of their rarity.

When my kids were little, movies were already readily available on videos, for instant replay.  We could watch them over and over—and did. Having them at our beck and call had its own magic, its own power. But do you sometimes wonder, as I do, about the cost and benefits of this ready access; what was lost, what was gained?

And then things speeded up even further:  Hundreds of channels on TV. Youtube. TIVO. Thousands of ways to capture and control images and experience.  I admit it: there’s something magical about having the whole world at your fingertips. Instant access. Just as it’s sometimes wonderful to have a bowl of soup, instantly, in your bowl, in your mouth, moving from craving to sated in one zap.

So, yes, there is a place for fast food –and, apparently, for fast books. But I hope there will also always be place for slow-cooked meals, for wine that takes years to age, for wisdom that takes a lifetime to deepen. And for books well-worth waiting for.

Breathe ……   nice and deep and slow.


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