I've recently become web-addicted to the book trading site bookins.com. If you're in the US, and you have a pile of books gathering dust, check it out. I've received several books, and two items on my trade list are winging their way to someone else right now. (Yes, please take my copy of Codex off my hands. Please!) I find that, curiously, there are a lot of books I'm willing to own if the price is only $3.99. (Well, okay, there are a lot of books I'm willing to own, period.)
Yesterday, I got a copy of Douglas Coupland's Generation X in the mail, which I've been reading today. There's something really quaint about it. Subtitled "Tales of an Accelerated Culture," it is of course the story of the last generation to grow up in an internet-less world, my generation. While the main characters have ennui aplenty, they also spend an awful lot of time–as my friends an I did–sitting around shooting the shit. One wonders, if one were to encounter them today, how they'd ever find the time. There are no cell phones, no IM-ing, no Blackberries.
(Tangentially, how excited is McDonald's that Wal-Mart has been taken up as the poster child for symbol of bad service sector employment? Seriously, when was the last time you heard someone refer to a "McJob"?)
It's funny, but I find myself more and more, when reading fiction of the '80s and early '90s, spending a lot of time thinking about the way the book would be different if only cell phones had been invented. There are quite a few mystery novels, for example, where the plot hangs on the main character's inability to both call the police and keep tailing a suspect–a plot contrivance that just seems off today. And it's not like I have this experience reading all fiction–I'd never argue that Pride & Prejudice would be improved by the introduction of Mr Darcy's blog, for example.
It's amazing how something that once seemed so current can now seem so dated. It's gotten to the point that the only fiction of 15 or 20 years ago that doesn't make me feel depressed is science fiction. Somehow, William Gibson still holds up, when more realistic work does not.
*sorry that this title doesn't have anything to do with the content of the post