Some say that there is a decline in the novel, while others claim that it is not the novel that is in decline but the readership. I personally think that at no time in the history of the novel has there been as many novels and stories published as today. Technology has made it easy for us to publish and read digitally. From advertisement, to courses, to articles and stories, to magazines and novels. People sometimes spend hours online, reading. The internet, twitter, blogging and digital publishing have helped turn us global. However, as Isaac Bashevis Singer, 1978 Nobel Prize winner, said in his Nobel lecture:
“There is no machine and no kind of reporting and no kind of film that can do for us what a Tolstoy or Dostoyevsky or Gogol did. Progress can never kill literature, any more than it can kill religion. The more technology, the more people will be interested in what the human mind can produce without the help of electronics. …if we have people with the power to tell a story, there will always be readers.”
Of the ten or so books that I read last month, there was not a single one that I can say I absolutely loved. I only liked some for their story, others for the characters and yet others for the writing itself, for the style in which they were written. In every one of those books there was at least one thing that the writer did well. And then I realized that no matter how bad a book is, there is always something in it that the writer is good at. The genius is the one who gets every aspect of the novel or the story right.
During an interview the late writer Gore Vidal was asked if there was anything in writing except language, and his reply was:
“In the writing of novels there is the problem of how to shape a narrative. And though the search for new ways of telling goes on- I don’t think there are going to be new discoveries. For one thing, literature is not science. There is no new formula. Some of us write better than others; and genius is never forced.”
On this note I would like to repost a story that I had posted earlier.
A blind boy sat on the steps of a building with a hat by his feet. He held up a sign which said: “I am blind, please help.” There were only a few coins in the hat.
A man was walking by. He took a few coins from his pocket and dropped them into the hat. He then took the sign, turned it around, and wrote some words. He put the sign back so that everyone who walked by would see the new words.
Soon the hat began to fill up. A lot more people were giving money to the blind boy. That afternoon the man who had changed the sign came to see how things were. The boy recognized his footsteps and asked, “Were you the one who changed my sign this morning? What did you write?”
The man said, “I only wrote the truth. I said what you said but in a different way.” I wrote:
“Today is a beautiful day but I cannot see it.”