Incite -- (v) 1: give an incentive; 2: provoke or stir up; "incite a riot"; 3: urge on; cause to act
Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Where have all the heroes gone?
Written by: Goemagog

We don't like to read.

I was a voracious reader when I was young. Now, I only read King and Rowling, and King's been getting pretty weak lately.

What has contributed to the drop-off, then? "All the other alternatives that compete for your time," says Schroeder.

No. If that were true, Harry Potter author Rowling wouldn't have sold so many books. People make time to read what's worth reading.

Fewer than half (47 percent) of U.S. adults now read fiction, down seven percentage points from 10 years ago. "That's especially sad," says Schoeder. "Literature is a culture's DNA. But the good news is that non-fiction has held up better. Serious books, especially political works, have been moving off the shelves."

In the world of political books, people rarely read what they don't already agree with. It does not broaden minds or lift spirits.

The problem with reading is you can only read what's been written, and most of what's written isn't worth reading. Given the multitude of entertainment and information venues available to us, very little of it is original or of quality.

The last sci-fi show with some originality went to hell after the second season, with speech-making taking priority over stories. How many angsty teens do we really need on our televisions? How many afterschool or Lifetime specials telling us that something is bad are we expecting to sit through? People want entertained, Hollywood generates billions of dollars for the countries they'll actually film in. The computer game industry is even larger. We have more television channels than stuff to put on them. Why wouldn't someone want to get away with a good book?

They've already read it. In books and magazines, there's a shortage of quality. Very few people want to read Ulysses, and nobody out of grade school wants to read Dick and Jane. What's left? Harlequin and ... well... King and Rowling. Clancy reads like a technical manual, Grisham writes about lawyers, and then we pretty much run out of people worth reading. There are a lot of other authors, but as with B-5, I'll go to a church if I want preached at or flip through my high school yearbooks if I want to reminisce about teen angst.

For originality of story line and plot devices, science fiction and fantasy are the two genres that offer the most potential, because they're not tied to reality. Once reality is disposed of, anything can happen or be justified. I haven't seen a new idea in science fiction televisionsince the original Star Trek. New names for old gizmos. Newer sci-fi shows replace gizmo-based stories with soap opera angst (usually with a teen or two, i.e. Deep Space 90210). Movies offer some, but for sci-fi books, it's all about the angst, the drama, the hero overcoming the inner demon that any sensible sidekick would have beat out of him in the first chapter.

Fantasy has come to us in three stages. Pre-tolkien has simple stories, usually with a moral, and only a few types of creatures. Tolkien put everything into his stories that he could find a way to fit in. Post-tolkien fantasy has everything the author can squeeze in, just like Tolkien's work, but a hero with an inner demon that any sensible sidekick would have beat out of him in the first chapter... sound familiar? Read up a paragraph.

Sometimes there is an original idea, but that's rarely enough for more than a short story. Far too often these are stretched into novels or, even worse, a series. Angst is padding, not plot, unless it's Harlequin, in which case angst is the whole story.

Rowling's fantasy series has angst, but that's fluff to pad out the story, and hasn't thusfar been the story. King has monsters (and who doesn't like monsters?) but his characters all have voices in their heads. Rowling writes for what used to be called "young adults". Young characters dealing with adult (not sexual) themes. She's the only person that I know of that writes for that market since Nancy Drew and the Hardy boys.

Better books will bring readers. Rowling has proven that. People aren't too busy to read. Rowling has proven that. The problem isn't that there's only one Rowling, it's that publishers print too many angsty pretentious books with hero's that annoy more than they inspire. What's the point in escapism if their world is as fucked up as ours?

Goe, thinks the thunderstorm passed.

Contact The Author:

John Beck

Feedback Welcomed

Greatest Hits

The Complete United Nations Posts
Immoderate Moderates
Marketing Myopia
In defense of the Republic
UKIP in America
Playing Connect the Dots
A Point So Often Missed: The Presence of an Administered Rate
Reagan Remembrance
Dr. Wolfowitz, or How I Supported the Right War Waged in the Wrong Way for the Wrong Reasons
Divine Right of Kings and UN Mandates
A Fantastic Idea, If I Do Say So Myself
Why We Were Right to Liberate Iraq
The Crisis of Conservatism

Blogs Worth Bookmarking

Steal The Blinds
Poor Dudley's Almanac
Protein Wisdom
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler
New Sisyphus
Jim Treacher
Ace of Spades
Captain's Quarters
Rambling's Journal
Neolibertarian Blog
LLP Group Blog
The Llama Butchers
The Castle Argghhh
The Politburo Diktat
The Dissident Frogman
In Search of Utopia
Aaron's cc:
You Know You Wanna
Classical Values
Clowning Glory
Vice Squad
Hit & Run
Link Mecca
The Corner
Power Line
Michelle Malkin
Mises Institute
marchand chronicles
Enlighten - New Jersey

More Top Reads

SlagleRock's Slaughterhouse
This Blog is Full of Crap
Who Tends the Fires
The Bleat
Outside the Beltway
Small Dead Animals
Kim du Toit
Tman in Tennessee
Hog On Ice
Pardon My English
Mr. Minority
Speed Of Thought
La Shawn Barber
Right Wing News
USS Clueless
Belmont Club
Shades of Gray
Seldom Sober
Roger L. Simon
Tacoma Blaze
A Small Victory
Murdoc Online
Iraq Elections Diatribe
Winds of Change
Enlighten - New Jersey
Random Fate
Riding Sun
The Daily File
Matt "The Man" Margolis
Bastard Sword
Roller Coaster of Hate

News Links

Blogger News Network
National Review Online
Tech Central Station
The Drudge Report
Reason Online
Mises Institute
The Weekly Standard
Front Page Magazine
Town Hall

Affiliations, Accolades, & Acknowledgements

The Neolibertarian Network


Image Hosted by
"More tallent than a million monkeys with typewriters."
--Glenn Reynolds

Image Hosted by

Image Hosted by

Image Hosted by

Life, Liberty, Property Community

Reciprocal Blogrolling

Accidental Verbosity
Conservative Eyes
The Moderate Voice
Perpetual Three-Dot Column
Sudan Watch
Mystery Achievement
Le Sabot Post-Moderne
Comment Me No Comments
New Spew

Links That Amuse the Writers

Huffington's Toast
The IFOC News
Dave Barry's Blog
Drum Machine
Something Awful
Cox & Forkum
Exploding Dog


March 2004
April 2004
May 2004
June 2004
July 2004
August 2004
September 2004
October 2004
November 2004
December 2004
January 2005
February 2005
March 2005
April 2005
May 2005
June 2005
July 2005
August 2005
September 2005
October 2005
November 2005
December 2005
January 2006
February 2006
March 2006
April 2006
May 2006
June 2006
August 2006
March 2007
May 2007
June 2007
August 2007
September 2007
October 2007
January 2008
February 2008
March 2008
April 2008
May 2008
September 2008
November 2008
December 2008
March 2009
April 2009
June 2009
July 2009
August 2009
September 2009
October 2009
November 2009

The Elephant Graveyard

We Are Full of Shit
The Sicilian
The Diplomad
Insults Unpunished
Fear & Loathing in Iraq
Right Wingin-It
Serenity's Journal
Son of Nixon
Rachel Lucas


Site Design by Maystar
Ask not for whom the blog tolls...
This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?
Weblog Commenting and Trackback by

Listed on Blogwise
Blogarama - The Blog Directory


Image Hosted by

Email Questions and Comments

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
eXTReMe Tracker