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Saturday, March 01, 2008


'America Didn’t Stop Reading'

A post at the NEA's The Big Read blog offers a success story worth sharing, and a brilliant explanation for why Dashiell Hammett didn't publish after the age of 40 (notice that I DIDN'T say Hammett STOPPED writing for publication, only that he DIDN'T).
From The Big Read:
Why did Dashiell Hammett stop writing for publication at 40, with a quarter century left to live? And why has America stopped reading for pleasure at 232, again with plenty of time left on the meter?

The easiest answer is, always, to refute the question. (Or beg the question? What exactly is begging the question, anyway? Is that when I beg friends to keep asking me Trivial Pursuit questions long after they just want to go to bed?) That is, Hammett didn’t stop writing forever at 40. He stopped for a year, to take a drink — which turned into two years, which made it harder to start again after three, and where was I again?

Similarly, America didn’t stop reading for pleasure overnight. It hasn’t stopped at all, just slowed down so fast that our eyeballs are fishtailing. Which is why I take heart from a story that Chris, the proprietrix of the St. Helens Book Shop here in the Oregon hamlet of the same name, told me last night...

The rest of the post is at The Big Read.

— TJ Sullivan in LA
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