Friday, October 23, 2009

Books vs. Screens

From Court Merrigan at TeleRead: The novel is screwed in the era of the screens. Tina Brown from the Daily Beast interviews author Philip Roth.

Roth thinks that in twenty-five years ("optimistically"), novels will have a cult-like following. Most people will choose the movie screen, the television screen, the computer screen. The video of the interview can be found here.

The logic seems to be that reading a novel takes more concentration than watching a movie or TV. Heck, sometimes I have a hard time focusing on a movie or show. When I can't focus on a book, it's time to turn the light off to get some sleep.

Is it really going to be reduced to a cult-like following? If so, I guess I'll be part of that cult. Reading a book provides full immersion in the story. All the actors are good actors; the way they say the lines is how you want to read them. Admittedly, sometimes the performance of the actor is better than what you can come up with, but most movies based on books I've seen, I've liked the book better. (With one exception: Lord of the Rings. I don't have the ability to concentrate on those books because of the writing style; I don't think that's necessarily a flaw on my part or Tolkien's.)

Part of me wants to say that it's just snooty to think people will read less because movies and television are 'easier', like it's looking down on the imaginations of others. Part of me thinks, however, that while special effects never used to be able to match what I pictured in my head when I read, they are now more than adequate - sometimes portraying fantastic things in a manner I would never have dreamed.

In any case, as long as the cult doesn't have to wear robes, I'm down with it. It'd be a shame, though, but isn't it already?


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