June 19th, 2009 / 12:34 am
Technology

Skeptical Voyeurism

cormacSorry Cormac McCarthy, I know everyone says you’re great but I just don’t buy it. I need to inquire for myself. If your books don’t got that “LOOK INSIDE!” feature I just won’t take the chance — and God forbid I leave my house and browse the bookstore; that would require me to put on my underwear, and my junk needs to shrunk. See what I just did for a rhyme?

Jabs and jokes aside, it’s interesting how the “Look Inside” feature points (inadvertently or not) to what’s most essential to the consumer/reader: the ‘judging a book by its cover’ cover; the marketing flourishes of blurbs/synopses on the back cover and/or inside flap; and the first 5 or so pages of text. (I’m not making any argument, for an arbitrary excerpt at pg. 214 would be fairly inapplicable. This ain’t exquisite corpse bitch.)

Perhaps the writer’s job is inextricably slash irrevocably also the publisher’s/vendor’s job as well: to capture, convince, and compel the reader by pg. 5. It’s like a blind date: you can tell by the first 5 sips of that gin n’ tonic if ur gonna fuck. For those novelists out there (for I am not), how cognizant are you of your reader’s fickle ADD constraints? Do you expect someone to bear through the first 50 pages on “good faith,” or do you throw your best punches at the start? Maybe the best plan is to do it throughout the entire book, but hey, we can’t all be idealists. Is a short story simply the beginning of a novel that is never finished? Is Cormac McCarthy basically a version of Ralph Lauren without the cologne? What drives a writer: ego, love, or pain? If one answers a rhetorical question in the comment section, how closer are they to infinity? Who’s your daddy?

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