Saturday, December 11, 2010

Extra! Extra!

The good news is that the truth is never far away. It's right here, in fact, posing as backdrop.

Erik Hansen
When I was growing up in New York during the 40's and 50's there were seven daily newspapers: The New York Times, The Daily News, The Daily Mirror. The New York Post, the World Telegram and Sun and The Journal American. They were all important papers with serious journalists and committed to their readers.

These days only the giants are left, the Times, the News and the Post. I worked off and on for The New York Times as a radio announcer. I was once interviewed by the News and my acting has been reviewed by critics from all of the papers.

One Christmas season I worked for a book store, a very large book store, one of the biggest in the country. The owner and manager knew a lot about books, publishers, authors, designers and so forth. When there was a book sellers convention and he stood up to speak everyone listened to him because of what he knew. He knew everything about books, except what was in them.

Today in New York there are also many newspapers printed in foreign languages. There's El Diario, the Spanish language paper, Il Progresso, the Italian paper. La Monde for French speakers and papers I don't know the titles of in Russian, German, Greek, Arabic, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Thai and other languages.

To ride the subway in New York is to often see people reading one of these different newspapers, a sign of the rich and varied sophistication and cultural diversity of the city.

I sometimes receive offers in the mail to subscribe to a club which will send me the world's great literature in tasteful, leather bound tomes that will look very nice on my bookshelf if I had one. Those books aren't meant to be read. Reading them might spoil the look. They are for decoration and some of them are collectors items. Besides, if you are going to read "Moby Dick," which few people ever do, you will probably get the Penguin paperback.

Marcel Proust once made the suggestion that all the frivolous passing news of the day should be published in expensive leather bound books along with the weather reports, sports scores and other simple stuff you find in newspapers while all the great writing of the centuries should be published in the daily papers. It would certainly have an impact on the accumulation of wisdom among the general population. What do you think?

DB - The Vagabond


Big Mark 243 said...

Then folks would find reason to deal with the inconvenience of the hidebound books... you can always lead a horse to water but it doesn't mean that you will find out why the chicken crossed the road...

Anonymous said...

He knew everything about books except what was in them....

Have you ever been in someone's private library, picked up an interesting book & found that some of the pages were sealed? Yeah, me too.

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

A man with a library is rich indeed.

pacifica62 said...

I do not think people would read great writing published in a daily newspaper. I think he advent of free commuter newsppapers has been wonderful. People might be too cheap to buy a daily newspaper, but they will certainly stop to pick up a free commuter paper. At least they are reading and for many that is the only reading they will do all day. They are gaining some wisdom, though not the kind you are hoping for.

Gerry said...

I read the full version of Moby Dick which I thought was inspired by the business of chasing the whale. It was like the whale of all novels, but if you persisted you were going to know more about whales and what it was to live and work on a whaling ship than all the people in the world except the other people who read that novel in its entirety.