Friday, July 6, 2007

When Refusing To Do Something Counts As Actually Doing Something, The Shiftless And Inert Become The Upwardly Mobile

There was a time when authors would travel the world, courting death in order to have something to write about. Hemingway went to Spain during the Spanish Civil War. Darwin sailed to the Galapagos Islands in pre-Dramamine days. Superhead worked her way up and down the East Coast having sex with every major label rapper since Kool G Rap. Lately, though, the opposite seems to be true. Authors are now writing books based entirely upon adventures that they didn't embark upon (Doing Nothing: A History of Loungers, Slackers, and Bums in America), foreign products they didn't buy (A Year Without 'Made In China'), and packaged foods they didn't eat (Animal, Vegetable, Miracle).

And this is supposed to be interesting how?

Reading is the lazy intellectual's secondhand way of experiencing life. Books are supposed to transport us places we normally wouldn't go and show us things we otherwise would not have seen. I am able to not shop at Walmart on my own. In fact, I do (not do) so daily, which seriously dampens any interest I might have in reading a book about someone else also (not) doing it. Oh sure, there are some sales to be made to the type of folks who need to have their lives mirrored back to them, but aren't most readers seeking perspectives and experiences unlike their own? Aren't they looking to be challenged and enlightened instead of just mentally masturbating with one metaphorical hand while patting themselves on the back with the other? Publishers would do well to reassess their current methods of unnatural selection, or they risk losing some of their audience to an all-new anti-adventure: readers not reading their books.