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Have the distractions of the Internet, and the demands of our busy schedules, taken away the ability to read well? It’s a thought that has been expressed in many different circles. David Ulin writes in the Los Angeles Times that he has always been a lover of books. “Since I discovered reading, I’ve always been…

The Lost Art of Reading

Have the distractions of the Internet, and the demands of our busy schedules, taken away the ability to read well? It’s a thought that has been expressed in many different circles. David Ulin writes in the Los Angeles Times that he has always been a lover of books. “Since I discovered reading, I’ve always been surrounded by stacks of books. I read my way through camp, school, nights, weekends; when my girlfriend and I backpacked through Europe after college graduation, I had to buy a suitcase to accommodate the books I picked up along the way. For her, the highlight of the trip was the man in Florence who offered a tour of the Uffizi. For me, it was the serendipity of stumbling across a London bookstall that had once been owned by the Scottish writer Alexander Trocchi, whose work, then as now, I adored.”

But then lately he finds that he hasn’t been able to read as he once did: “So what happened? It isn’t a failure of desire so much as one of will. Or not will, exactly, but focus: the ability to still my mind long enough to inhabit someone else’s world, and to let that someone else inhabit mine.”

What do you think? Ulin argues that the contemplation that reading demands is needed more today than ever. The important problems that need solving can only be best understood through serious thought and consideration. Ulin asks, “How do we pause when we must know everything instantly? How do we ruminate when we are constantly expected to respond? How do we immerse in something (an idea, an emotion, a decision) when we are no longer willing to give ourselves the space to reflect?”

Posted by Joel on August 23 2009 • Current Affairs

The Art of Nonfiction

I recently cam across this interview with the great creative nonfiction writer Gay Talese. He talks about his way of writing, and his typical “day at the office,” which is more typical than you would think. He gets dressed as if he is going to the office, including the tie--even though the office is in the basement.

TALESE
Yes. I dress as if I’m going to an office in midtown or on Wall Street or at a law firm, even though what I am really doing is going downstairs to my bunker. In the bunker there’s a little refrigerator, and I have orange juice and muffins and coffee. Then I change my clothes.

INTERVIEWER
Again?

TALESE
That’s right. I have an ascot and sweaters. I have a scarf. 

Posted by Joel on August 07 2009 • Journalism