Sunday, October 3, 2010

Fiction Reading in the Internet Age

A rather 
poignant essay by Kevin Hartnett over at The Millions about the challenges of reading fiction in a life caught in the Inter-web. 

"A yen for fiction," writes Hartnett, "is something like my canary in the coal mine, an early indication, when it ebbs, that something else is wrong." He also writes that "there's something intrinsically optimistic about the process by which tragedy and frailty are turned into art," and that "the more I'm engaged with life--and particularly with other people--the more I want to read fiction."

I spend a fair amount of time both reading fiction and going through periods where a story or novel can't seem to hold my attention, and I often wonder about the combination of environmental, behavioral, and psychological factors which produce such impatience, such inability to focus. Hartnett's essay seems to me a good start at teasing apart some of this complexity.

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