A Novel to be Savored Like a Gourmet Meal

By • Feb 17th, 2010 • Category: 26th Story

I’ve been wanting to write something about Martha McPhee’s upcoming book, Dear Money, but I’ve been having trouble articulating what I want to say.

It’s a gorgeous book — delicate, elegant, subtle and lyrical — and yet it took me an embarrassing amount of time to read, and I think the point I want to make is somewhere in that; It’s to be savored like a gourmet meal — and that’s not a bad thing — but this type of reading doesn’t seem to have a place in my everyday life in the way that Swedish massage doesn’t either, and yet I love that too. The world I’m immersed in (for better or worse) is whiplash fast; it’s a world made for skimming idea books in big gulps on an iPhone and then summing it up in 140 characters.

Am I alone with this dilemma? It’s not that I don’t value a luxurious read – in fact I aspire to have a life where it fits in on a daily basis and isn’t just relegated to a stack of “vacation” reading. Am I the only one who can’t find 8 hours to carve out for a delicate novel?

I actually believe that there are still people out there who make the time to luxuriate in a literary novel. In fact I follow Gotham Gal’s blog in awe at how much she reads.  Big fat literary novels seem to be devoured like candy. The question becomes how does this reader find a book like Dear Money?

The review sections that built these literary authors are an endangered species; over 200 newspapers closed in 2009 alone.

So Martha’s got to blog, right? And work the tools out there today to tell her own story…and she is. Martha joined Twitter and Facebook; she started a beautiful blog that I love to visit because there’s always a little treasure to discover: a story, a recipe, or sometimes a great photograph. But if the truth be told, it may not be as much “fun” for everyone as I can make it out to be. I always tell authors “it’s like a big cocktail party”…but maybe there are authors who don’t like cocktail parties…

I want to live in a world where an artist is nurtured and allowed to flourish; a world that wouldn’t force an artist like a square peg into a round hole in order to survive. It’s the same world where Northshire Bookstore would flourish because it’s a magical haven of inspiration and ideas and should be exempt from playing in a field where Walmart and Amazon fight over loss leaders.

I don’t have answers here, just more questions.

UPDATE: Bob just told me to take a day off and go get a massage and read a book :)

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  • Neonjade

    Bob sounds like an ok kinda guy :)

    A tidbit to chew on while waiting for your next meal: if our speed of light lives are doing anything for the talented, could it be the value of specialization? Maybe the lesson is in pursuing the things you love with focus and leaving the square hole tasks to the square hole folks?

  • http://www.personalbrandingblog.com/ Dan Schawbel

    Debbie, I really enjoy reading your eloquent posts on this blog. I don't know how people find time to read 500 to 1,000 page books these days, unless they are traveling. I consume most of my information from skimming through hundreds of blogs each day. If you've set up the right alerts and made the right online connections, the stuff that's really important to you finds it's way to you. I don't believe every author is a good blogger either. Authors should be aware of the different marketing/communication tools out there and be allowed to experiment and see what works best for them.

  • http://www.debbiestier.com Debbie Stier

    I agree. I'm more of a blog reader these days. I always have a few books going — but it's not deep book reading anymore. And I've come to a place where I don't think all authors can find their comfort zone blogging — but I'm still left wondering how to publish them then. Any ideas?

  • markgompertz

    We are all caught up in the new technology,clinging to it like a life preserver, because the last couple of years we had a perfect storm of bad things like the recession, and book review closings, and price wars where content was devalued. And so we turn to blogs and social networking and new gadgets and we work on pricing and royalties and piracy and a whole host of problems that need to be solved. But in the end it all comes down to books and to authors,to original voices and story and style. I guarantee you that when the dust settles we will still be discovering new books that we can sink into and fall in love with. I plan to go away next week to an island and that is exactly what I will be doing. And when I come back I plan to be even more passionate about the reading experience.

  • http://www.personalbrandingblog.com/ Dan Schawbel

    I think “short-form” blogging may help capture their ideas that they can expand on in a book, such as Tumblr. I just spoke to Tom Peters today and his new book, I believe you're publishing it, is entirely blog posts. I think it becomes just a personal preference.

  • http://robertwahl.blogspot.com/ robert wahl

    Deb,
    Want recipes? I got recipes. Pure Arkansas Ozark Moonshine, *Devil's Spit.* Turn that cocktail party y'all talkin' about into a repeat of a geriatric Woodstock, without music. Don't need music, you'll be hearin' it after a swaller or two, seein' flyin' mud puppies, growley dancin' bears and chipmunks chewin' cableTV wires! Course, now, if ya prefer Vermont skiing… well, you'll be missing the best next day headache and tummy giggles EVER!

    And I got fly tyin' recipes for young Nathan to.

    Did I ever tell ya about the Black Bear got himself stuck in cousin LeRoy's privy? Seems LeRoy hikes out yonder near abouts 2 A.M. and… well, it wasn't Pooh Bear n' the Honey House!

    Haste yee back ;-)

  • http://www.rapmonster.com rap

    yum yum.. more pages please