Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Woolly Novelist

We slush-pile warriors may be the woolly mammoths of our time.

We think in terms of 85,000 words, a novella, a chapter... not a fifty-word installment to a cell phone novel.

In the age of a mouse click and a blink, is storytelling defunct?

Will next year's cliffhanger be: "Y R U leavin me, Studley?"

An interesting comparison of The Simpsons and Family Guy sparked further thought. Not that this analysis rivaled a discussion on quantum mechanics -- but the article indicated that The Simpsons writers are storytellers, whereas Family Guy relies on one-liners, or wisecracks that have no context to the scene or plot.

The last three romantic comedies I've seen have a disjointed quality, too. Cast of thousands, mini-stories, really, with loose connections. Make that very loose connections. Couple one are ghosthunters who can't decide whether to LCD or plasma their den TV. Couple two struggles with fertility issues and works part-time as carnies. Couple three obsess with plastic surgery perfection and second-mortgage their house for a set of matching nostrils. Meanwhile, their Quaker in-laws (ill-fated couple number four) fly to Vegas, baby. While in baggage claim purgatory, their luggage gets switched with a Mafioso and his stripper wife. A flatulent dog rounds out the cast.

Run, Forrest, run!!

Story isn't dead. Proof exists. Scorsese's "The Departed" and Pixar's "Up." They're riveting, harrowing, unpredictable. Much deeper emotional experiences.

For every "Up," there are dozens of mediocre kid flicks. I know, because I've accompanied my children to these animated duds... all along, cursing myself for buying the overpriced Twizzlers AND not waiting for the DVD rental.

The cell phone novel. The 75 word sidebar magazine article. The death of newspapers. The computer game with the user-determined ending. How the Internet is rewiring our brains, frying our attention span. We're less literate. Most Americans never set foot in a bookstore.

Is that a Geico caveman charging toward me with a spear, or does this smell like extinction?

No comments:

Post a Comment