Huzzah! WordPress is back!*

I've recently become web-addicted to the book trading site 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


April 16, 2006. books for grown-ups.


  1. Buffy replied:

    For some reason this brings back images of my mom carrying around a mobile phone (cell phone) the size of her foot circa 1990ish.

    I don’t read alot of 80’s novels. Is that bad? Am willing to take recommendations, however.

  2. Suzanne replied:

    Your post reminds me of my discomfort with novels chock full of topical allusions (paricularly of the pop culture kind).They can be humorous or relevant today, but I suspect that future readers will not understand the references or care enough to research them. And thereby rendering the novel to a future scrap heap. (A certain degree of verisimilitude is important, of course, but too much is not, IMHO, a good thing in this case.)

  3. Jennifer replied:

    Tangentially: When I read the newspaper these days — the printed one that arrives on my doorstep — I often find myself looking for the “comment” button!

    I lived in Eastern Europe from 1993-95, just as the internet was being invented & email popularized. Which is why I came back in 1995. Until I had access to the Web, I was happy there; but as soon as I could read, moment by moment, what was happening in other parts of the world, I was hyper aware that I lived in the boonies & was missing a hell of a lot.

    I always disliked Douglas Copeland. In the same way that I disliked the popular crowd in high school. I’m glad to hear him referred to as “quaint” : )

  4. Comfort Addict replied:

    Thanks for the tip about bookins. I’ll check it out.

    Quaintness is a very interesting phenomenon. It always amazes me to see things thought revolutionary in past times as quaint and realizes the today’s hot books, movies and cultural topics will be seen the same way by future generations. I also like to try to imagine how different future times will be to allow their denizens to cast us as quaint.

  5. MetroDad replied:

    Bookin is awesome, LM. Thanks for the tip! I’ve been looking for a place to unload all my old books from college. Somehow, I never in the mood to sit down and read Milton or Chaucer these days. Might as well clear out some space for some new reads.

  6. Tami replied:

    Thanks for the book site information. Great blog. If you have a chance visit my food blog at

  7. Elizabeth replied:

    Have you seen the Spiderman movie? I spent a while trying to figure out whether it was set in the present day or the 1950s of the original comics, and eventually figured out that it’s set in an alternative present where there are cell phones, etc. but no television. It’s a brilliant move, because otherwise the whole storyline about him as a photojournalist doesn’t work at all.

  8. chichimama replied:

    Thanks for the link! How cool.

  9. Kate the Shrew replied:

    The book exchange site sounds like a great thing, I’ll have to check it out. Our local used book stores will hardly buy anything any more.

    Also, I’m totally enchanted by the idea of Mr. Darcy blogging, though I agree it wouldn’t improve the book.

  10. engtech replied:

    I’ve been discovering a lot of older sci-fi recently like The Mote in God’s Eye, The Shockwave Rider and I’m currently on A Scanner Darkly.

    Very good stuff.

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