Sunday, December 20, 2009

Pico Iyer

This morning in the TIMES, Pico Iyer (and if you don't know his non-fiction work, he's worth checking out) was writing about absorption. He lamented the lack of it in a world of celebrity and dazzle. And he celebrated sitting down with a book that turned out to be just okay but happily losing track of time, anyway.

The most arresting image in the piece was of someone leaning toward to tell a story she had been waiting to tell all her life. Who wouldn't absorbed? And who would say, "Excuse me. But I have to tweet seventy-seven people and tell them how riveted I am."

Engrossed and immersed, rapt and consumed. Isn't that what we want for our readers? Setting the bar any lower than that is a disservice to all concerned.

I'm not saying it's easy. We've all read about the new, hot novelist who is seven years old and flies his own plane. Then we pick up his book, and it's not even just okay. It's just a media event.

There's a great scene in "The Downhill Racer," an early Robert Redford movie. He's just set a record in the slalom; the press is all over him. Then a scorching mid-race time for a competitor is announced and everyone's attention turns to the clock. Here today, gone today.

Be brave. Lean forward and whisper the story you have waiting all your life to tell.

Buddy and I wish everyone the happiest of holidays.


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