Friday, February 22, 2008

The End of the Story as we Know It?

Interesting article in recent Vanity Fair on the radical changes in storytelling. Read it here.

The idea that "the new media" is altering the way stories are told is provocative. I can remember back in the sixties when I first began to pay attention to the literary environment the discussion centered around "the death of the novel." This was the era of meta-fiction, John Barth, Robert Coover, Donald Barthleme, Brautigan, Vonnegut and many others. Also known as "fabulists." No plot, no character, no reliance on traditional realistic techniques. I fell under their spell for years and during those years I produced some pretty strange and pretty worthless writing. A few of my better stories written during that era were published in a collection called Paper Products.

It's true that scholars and cultural critics have been claiming that the novel form was in its death throes almost since it was born.

But personally I'm a little more concerned about the future of the novel form, and about the traditional film story than I've ever been before. Mainly because the recent cultural changes seem to be of a whole different order. A new generation (that I see in my college classes) are rewiring their brains with X-boxes and the Internet and the fast-cutting, no-attention span video gaming discussed in the Vanity Fair article.

Could we be witnessing the last generation of novel readers? Or is this apocalyptic vision just a recycling of a long term literary uneasiness that has always existed just below the thin skin of readers and writers?

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