23 February 2009

Essay responding to the e-book.

John Updike wrote a reverberating little piece entitled "A Case for Books" that I think expresses why so many of us serious readers are alarmed by the rise of the electronic-format book. The physical appeal of the hard copy of a novel is unmatchable even by the variable format font and crisp screen glow. And don't misunderstand me: I am hardly a modern-day Luddite (I keep a blog and check my Google calendar several times a day), but Updike's essay puts into words those hesitations and anxieties that I've been having trouble focusing. He argues that books leave remnants suggestive of our internal lives in a way that electronic books cannot; they "externalize our brains, and turn our homes into thinking bodies." They serve as "counterweight to our fickle and flighty natures." It's a short and punchy defense by a man who truly appreciates writing as an art form.

"A Case for Books" is included in his collection of essays and literary criticism entitled Due Considerations, which is well worth a read, a skim, or at least dabble.

1 comment:

Ian said...

That sounds like a pretty interesting essay. I'll have to check it out. I'm with you on the hesitation about ebooks.