The Late American Novel: Writers on the Future of Books

The Late American Novel: Writers on the Future of Books

by Jeff Martin
     
 

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The way we absorb information has changed dramatically. Edison’s phonograph has been reincarnated as the iPod. Celluloid went digital. But books, for the most part, have remained the same—until now. And while music and movies have undergone an almost Darwinian evolution, the literary world now faces a revolution, a sudden change in the way we buy,

Overview

The way we absorb information has changed dramatically. Edison’s phonograph has been reincarnated as the iPod. Celluloid went digital. But books, for the most part, have remained the same—until now. And while music and movies have undergone an almost Darwinian evolution, the literary world now faces a revolution, a sudden change in the way we buy, produce, and read books.

Scholars, journalists, and publishers have turned their brains inside out in the effort to predict what lies ahead, but who better to comment on the future of the book than those who are driven to write them?

In The Late American Novel, Jeff Martin and C. Max Magee gather some of today’s finest writers to consider the sea change that is upon them. Lauren Groff imagines an array of fantastical futures for writers, from poets with groupies to novelists as vending machines. Rivka Galchen writes about the figurative and literal death of paper. Joe Meno expounds upon the idea of a book as a place set permanently aside for the imagination, regardless of format. These and other original essays by Reif Larsen, Benjamin Kunkel, Victoria Patterson, and many more provide a timely and much-needed commentary on this compelling cultural crossroad.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The order of this anthology feels particularly poignant. While many of the initial essays are repetitive, self-consciously "quirky," or simply obvious, subsequent pieces become meatier, less sentimental, and generally more insightful. Many writers in the early pages reflect, not surprisingly, on the "experience" of a "real" book that anyone wondering about the future of print (and therefore reading this very book) will identify with, but luckily these predictable musings ultimately serve as a point of departure. In a solicitous email exchange, Jonathan Lethem and David Gates swap thoughts on how the characters in their own fiction handle technology, a question that feels more pertinent, somehow, to our reading culture than the means through which we engage with stories. Ander Monson pragmatically reminds us that "we all desire narrative," the persistence of which does feel hopeful here–but is also, simply, true. Deb Olin Unferth brings necessary perspective as she widens the lens: books aren’t the only things that are dying and to mourn them alone would be myopic. (Feb.)
From the Publisher
Praise for The Late American Novel

"Funny, poignant, relentlessly thought-provoking." —The Atlantic

“This book is lively, smart, funny, wildly creative, and gives me great hope for the future of writing.” —A.J. Jacobs, author of The Year of Living Biblically

“What a fun and timely book this is. I sat down to read it expecting a coroner's report and found a manifesto instead. Maybe it's not time to go back to work at Applebee's yet, after all.” —John Wray, author of Lowboy

Praise for The Customer Is Always Wrong, edited by Jeff Martin

“The mundane tasks and indignant exchanges with impossible customers are hilariously captured in this collection . . . Some . . . are spun with a catty flair and flirt with a mild contempt for frivolous consumers; others . . . are outrageously funny and incorporate life lessons in the litany of humiliations. Breezy and occasionally creepy musings on everything from guilt over serving fattening Swedish pancakes to seniors to the horrors of working at Sears may provide some nostalgic chuckles and perhaps even some unpleasant flashbacks as this collection elevates retail selling to a rite of passage.” —Publishers Weekly

Praise for My Dog Ate My Nobel Prize

“Jeff Martin is a first class liar. Even better than me.” —James Frey

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781593764043
Publisher:
Soft Skull Press, Inc.
Publication date:
03/01/2011
Pages:
192
Sales rank:
1,244,583
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.50(d)

Meet the Author

Jeff Martin edited the retail anthology The Customer Is Always Wrong and in 2009 released his fabricated memoir, My Dog Ate My Nobel Prize. He lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

C. Max Magee created and edits the online magazine The Millions. He has appeared on NPR’s Weekend Edition and has written for Poets & Writers, The Morning News, and The Rumpus. He lives in Philadelphia.

Contributors Include: Thomas Allen • Kyle Beachy • John Brandon • Sonya Chung • Elizabeth Crane • Rudolph Delson • Rivka Galchen • David Gates and Jonathan Lethem • Joshua Gaylord • Lauren Groff • Garth Risk Hallberg • Owen King • Benjamin Kunkel • Reif Larsen • Victor LaValle • Emily St. John Mandel • Clancy Martin • Michael Paul Mason • Joe Meno • Ander Monson • Victoria Patterson • Tom Piazza • Marco Roth • Nancy Jo Sales • Katherine Taylor • Deb Olin Unferth

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