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« Karr talk | Main | The future of fiction 2 »



Good topic. I can speak only to my idiosyncratic reading habits, but I can say that I wasn't particularly drawn, post-9/11, to either facts or comfort.

Escape has always been part of my fiction-reading experience--not escape from reality, per se, but escape into carefully constructed experience, i.e., literature.

That said, these days I've been reading more long-essay-nonfiction (Geoff Dyer, Lewis Hyde) and dead foreigners (Bernhard, Proust) than anything else.

As far as new fiction, I'm in the middle of Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. I saw it mentioned in enough places (lit blogs, mainly, tho' my dad mentioned it, too) to somehow motivate me to buy and read it. I was/am intrigued by the overarching formal experiment and the fact that it's something different.

I have trouble getting through a lot of contemporary American literary novels. So many of them (not all by any means--there's some brilliant stuff out there) are so boring, I just want to throw them at the wall. And not boring like Gilead, which is the best kind of "boring" book, but boring like...hmm...decorative art?

Lynne W. Scanlon

The future of fiction isn't what worries me. People will always read. Where they will read may be changing: online.

The quality of literature isn't what worries me. One reader's literature is another reader's dreck. Just look at The New York Times Book Review Best Sellers!

It's the PACKAGING and PRICING of literature (and all books) that concern me. Think advertising inside books and on jackets or in the sidebars beside digital books. (HarperCollins is doing this right now with Bruce Judson's book, "Go It Alone.")

Think books for free, and publishers making their money off the ads. Think lump sum payments and "work for hire" for authors.


I don't think fiction is fading, but it did have a really bad year last year. My wife reads fiction compulsively (she's read 48 books since January 1), and she has been complaining for the last year that there's been no good fiction out. And of our fifteen top-selling fiction titles last year, THREE were published in 2005. Good news is I think this trend is reversing, with some great new novels in the pipeline (including at least one from the place Carl works).....

Dave F.

It's a hard one. Fiction doesn't seem to be as strong or interesting as it once was. People are freaking out over the Memoir- could it be because of the popularity of Reality TV? Or Personal Blogs even? I personally can't get my fill of the blogs- found a good one recently at...
Peeking into the lives of others is pretty thrilling. I wonder how long it will last? Great site by the way-

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