Tuesday, December 9, 2008


LH has gone to lunch with two writers from Houston and one from Austin, meeting at Klump’s on the square in Round Top. These guys are professionals who make a living from writing sentences and/or teaching others how to do it.

I’m sitting here wondering how much longer they will have those jobs, in print media, at least.

And it's got me thinking about reading words on a paper page. Reading fiction, in fact. Why should reading novels endure? What exactly is it we get from a good piece of fiction that we can't get from a movie? They’re both telling stories, after all.

In my view, it comes to this: Fine fiction takes you out of yourself for the duration of the story; and yet it brings you back to a fuller understanding of yourself when you are done.

Film can do the first, but the images are so intense, and fall so rapidly upon one another, that you have no opportunity for reflection about what you’re seeing. You can’t put a film down after a particularly moving scene while you consider its meaning. (Well, you can put it on pause, but that’s not quite the same thing, is it? In fact, the stilled image sits right there on the screen and reproaches you for stopping it.)

Also, books last longer. They are portable. Even e-readers are portable. Film is now portable, too, but enjoying a movie on the go requires the presence of earphones and the right kind of computer. A book just requires it own small self, and you.

Obviously, however, the gap between books and film is narrowing.

That leaves us with the one big difference. That is, books require a deeper engagement of your imagination. You are peopling the story, putting faces on the characters, creating the sound of their voices. You are the set designer, too.

In the case of fiction, less remains actually more.

For now.

December View for today is the remnant of the farmhouse where Mr. and Mrs. Muske spent their lives:


Cher said...

Life, it is achangin'!

We'll alway read but paper might be on the way out.

The Texas woman

Texas Legacy Lady said...

I love books as demonstrated by all of our built in and freestanding bookshelves along with all the stacks here, there and yonder. To me it's sort of like kids playing with cardboard boxes and imagining them as trains, houses, cars, boats or whatever their imaginations want the boxes to be.

With books you can have the characters look as you want them to. The scenery all evolves in your imagination as you read.

The writer puts down the words and you see them and interpret them however you wish. If you miss a point, you can go back and read it again.

A U. of H. professor told our class that you should read the book, then see the movie and then the play. We often did that when we could while we lived in Houston. Each one was so different but I always enjoyed the book because it was my call as to how I saw things. Blessings.

thedomesticfringe said...

The books are always better than the movies! I have a rule in my house, no watching the movie till you've read the book.

I think more books will become available digitally. We do everything via the computer. Books for blackberries...people will still read. :) I'll always be partial to paper.