Thursday, April 19, 2007

On Writing, Reading, and Listening to Writers

Last night I went to hear Salman Rushdie speak. The title of his speech was "The Role of the Writer in the 21st Century." He said things that most people in the audience probably already knew (we're screwed because people don't read as much, or write serious long novels, anymore. Writers can change the world one reader at a time...etc) but he told some funny anecdotes and name-dropped and made us laugh. Not a bad gig he's got there....getting paid $30,000 to speak and tell funny stories for an hour. One thing that I kept thinking about is how reading engages the imagination in a way that watching a film or listening to music or looking at a painting can't. If people are reading less and less, then we're talking about millions and millions of imaginations not being engaged. How will that affect our larger culture. I'm not sure but I know it can't be good. I haven't exactly been doing my part, not lately at least, what with my Bravo TV addiction.

On a related note, Happy Birthday Carolyn! Here's to someone who actively engages her (and my) imagination on a daily basis! Enjoy Paris, lord knows you've earned it. You're going to love your thirties. I hope. Don't hold me to that.


StormySleep said...

NO WAY!!! He's my favorite writer in the world, I've read everything he's written, and just about everything written about him. I've never seen him in person, I always thought my heart my stop if I did. And there you are, hearing him speak.

Be still, my envious heart. At least it's you, someone who appreciates him.

Jeannie's New Mid Life said...

Sorry for the lengthy post but here goes!
I read an article about a year ago in the NYTimes Magazine, admittedly my favorite part of the Sunday NyTimes-and it was about books becoming obsolete in the future- I became determined then to ALWAYS be reading something because the article scared the crap out of me! My oldest has grown up seeing me well read but not always reading, the twins have no memory of me without a book in tow and the twins have picked up the habit of always having a book on hand. My 13 year old would choose the computer over a book anytime-so maybe it's example. My mom always had a book by her bed in her purse, at the pool etc..
Currently reading- Saving the World by Julia Alvarez -fiction based on the 1803 smallpox expedition of Don Francisco Balmis- Just FYI-I am always a year behind on great reads -you have probably read it- but I am enthralled at the moment with this novel.
We really need a book review/swap blog!

Alannah said...

Lori - You would have loved his speech. He has a gentle, playful way of speaking that draws the listener in.

Jeannie - I too love the magazine, even if it takes me a week or more to read it through (plus the crossword!). Rushdie even talked about the significance of The Kite Runner and why it's so important to read books like that, because they give a personal view to something we see on the news but don't REALLY understand on a personal level.

That book sounds really good! I'm a year or more behind too. Let's have a "Lazy Reader" book swap/club!

Jonah said...

One of the more intriguing things about Rushdie is that he has managed to keep that playful sense of humor and laid back style, even after being under heavy security and scrutiny for so long. He was delightful!

carolyn says said...

thanks for the birthday wishes!

sounds like a good lecture, i once read a column claiming that writers are generally poor public speakers and i find that to be a crock. once you get a writer (well a a good writer anyhow) off on a tangent it's usually pretty awesome.

i've never read any rushdie, what's a good starter?