Well OK, not literally, but symbolically. Silicon Valley has already passed its 2013 quota for smartphones and tablets manufactured and sold. So who will need all these extra libraries? The classic image of the solitary novelist struggling over his chiseled words in some garret has gone with the same digital wind that so many other 19th & 20th C ingenuity’s have.
This is not to say — I hope this is not to say! — great authors penning great books will disappear in a glut of quickie blogs and tweets. But it is to say the age of the great literary minds like Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Tolstoy, Herman Melville, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Virginia Woolf, Thomas Wolfe, John Steinbeck and Jonathan Franzen are no longer the first topic of the literati’s dinner conversation. Rather it is the new television writer-producers of such richly textured cable series as Damages, The Sopranos,The Big C, Homeland, Ray Donovan, Breaking Bad, Downton Abbey and Boardwalk Empire.
Lets get this straight. Network television has certainly not relinquished its old title of ‘cultural wasteland.’ It still fills the air with nightly trash and drivel ranging from sophomoric laughtrack sitcoms to brain-damaged covens of prattling ‘Housewives.’ This along with news, sports and commercials is what the nets are now satisfied to bring us. Meanwhile the discriminating reader/viewer must look to PBS, HBO, Showtime, and AMC for any literary quality.
Oh, it’s out there, my snobbish skeptic, you only have to take the time to look for it. True, the new video formats are different than that beautifully bound book you love to cradle in your lap, but these video experiences have become America’s new novels. Movies are too costly and too short to compete with a well crafted 12-episode experience. So it is to these new 12-part literary masterworks on our screens we must turn for the next Dickens or Fitzgerald. They will be just as gifted…only we will be watching not reading them.
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