Here’s an excerpt worth pondering from a brief email interview with humorist, critic, and author Joe Queenan at The New York Times‘ ArtBeat blog, occasioned by the publication of Queenan’s new memoir One for the Books, about his lifetime of passionate engagement with books and “his own eccentric reading style.”
Q. One of your book’s biggest themes is the superiority of books to e-readers. Are you optimistic about the future of books on paper? And do you consider this book more of an early eulogy or a rallying cry?
A. The book is elegiac. Books, I think, are dead. You cannot fight the zeitgeist and you cannot fight corporations. The genius of corporations is that they force you to make decisions about how you will live your life and then beguile you into thinking that it was all your choice. Compact discs are not superior to vinyl. E-readers are not superior to books. Lite beer is not the great leap forward. A society that replaces seven-tier wedding cakes with lo-fat cupcakes is a society that deserves to be put to the sword. But you can’t fight City Hall. I also believe that everything that happens to you as you grow older makes it easier to die, because the world you once lived in, and presumably loved, is gone. As I have said before, when Keith Richards goes, I’m going too. Same deal with books.
— John Williams, “‘Books, I Think, Are Dead’: Joe Queenan Talks About One for the Books,” ArtsBeat, The New York Times, November 30, 2012
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