Fiction is Up
According to the National Endowment for the Arts, fiction reading is up among adults and teenagers for the first time in twenty-five years.

The question is: is a resurgence in fiction reading an effect of the current worldwide economic depression?

Or is a resurgence in fiction reading the CAUSE of the current worldwide economic depression?

"Cultural decline is not inevitable," said NEA Chairman Dana Gioia. And she didn't say: "Soon we will ALL be the sort of fucked-up bum who spends their whole day reading French literature and sneers at the people going to their jobs and taking care of their responsibilities. Soon we will ALL be the sort of horrible, unethical monstrosity that can subsist each day on two cold hot dog wieners and a pack of crackers, as long as they have a book to read which features a feast and has hot sex scenes."

From the NEA report:

* Fiction (novels and short stories) accounts for the new growth in adult literary readers.
* Reading poetry and drama continues to decline, especially poetry-reading among women.
* Online readers also report reading books. Eighty-four percent of adults who read literature (fiction, poetry, or drama) on or downloaded from the Internet also read books, whether print or online.
* Nearly 15 percent of all U.S. adults read literature online in 2008.

Men, women, minorities, teenagers, Christians, and even college graduates are reading more fiction these days.

* The U.S. population now breaks into two almost equally sized groups â€" readers and non-readers.
* A slight majority of American adults now read literature (113 million) or books (119 million) in any format.

Readers and non-readers. Morlocks and Eloi.

The NEA does something called "The Big Read" every year where they try to get everyone in the country to all read the same book. They are insisting this is the reason more people are reading fiction, because that's where they spent all of their money: buying you a copy of "The Maltese Falcon" which they later burned when you didn't pick it up in Washington, D.C.

But since nobody in America has ever heard of "The Big Read" (I did a survey of my roommates), one is forced to speculate on alternative reasons for the increase in fiction reading. The best way to do this is to look at other alarming statistics and try to draw correlations:

1). THE RISE OF REALITY TELEVISION: By consistently going for the lowest common denominator and turning television into actual amateur porn, TV has changed its audience forever. After you are done masturbating to an accountant from Birmingham, Alabama sleeping with his own mother to win points on a show called "The Oedipus Complex" which is set in a fancy San Franciso apartment building where the windows have red leather curtains, you suddenly find yourself bored and look around for something else to do in your apartment. You realize that there is nothing good in your life, so you pick up a book.

2). THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION: George Bush has been sneaking out of the White House every night and traveling by jet to a different American household and giving each member of the family a novel stolen from The Library of Congress. He also gives each member of the family a hug and says: "Novels teach you to enjoy difficulties and love peculiar characters," and he won't leave until the family drinks a beer with him and promises to renew their library card. This was the agreement he made with Laura when she agreed to love him and make him happy for the rest of her life by the paradise of the dashboard light. This is his legacy, his Shadow Directive, his Illuminated Master Plan.

3). THE INTERNET EXISTS: Note: I am not a statistician, but it was probably not possible for 15% of adults to read literature online in 1982.

4). YOUTUBE AND GRAND THEFT AUTO: Now that anybody can be a televised celebrity, we all see how shallow and stupid it is to make this pursuit a life goal. Now that anybody can go on a mass murder spree, we all see that this is not the answer, or at least that being run over by a tank coming out of the liquor store is much more "definitive" than one might suppose without participating in "simulation."

5). FUNEMPLOYMENT: Knowing that social security will not be around later, Generation X and Y have pioneered the frequent "funemployment" period instead of taking vacations. This is where you quit your job and slowly use up all of your available resources until you have read all of the books around and spent as many days as possible sitting in a coffee shop, buying nothing, and bullshitting about UFOs and your childhood.

"You are reading another book, Jerry? Why don't you get a job and make some money so you can come with us to drink pale ale and talk about work at Chili's?"

"Naw, I'm funemployed. I don't have Chili's-money. I have used-copy-of-Thackeray's "Vanity Fair"-money. It's good! It's witty! I like to imagine that I am a troubled British aristocrat who is descending to the lower classes in order to gather tales for my world-weary peers."

6). THE RISE OF ONLINE LITERARY MAGAZINES: What literature, praytell, are these people reading online? Could it be completely NEA unfunded online literary magazines that are uncensored, have no agenda, and put out quality fiction free of charge to the entire world, expecting nothing in return, not even reader loyalty?

No, let's be honest. The real reason people are reading more "fiction" is because of:

7). HARRY POTTER SLASH FICTION: a phenomenon uniting truckers and twelve-year old girls, read by everyone from congressional reps to professional wrestlers. I personally am very happy about this phenomenon.

But the NEA could not write such a letter and maintain its funding:





Posted by miracle on Tue, 13 Jan 2009 13:24:54 -0500 -- permanent link

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