Thursday, August 11, 2016

Musings on the Future of Books

Edie here. I'm excited to share the news that best-selling author, Warren Adler has a new series out! Be sure to click on the book trailer at the end of the post and look for the special offer of a free audio download of the first book in the Fiona Fitzgerald series.


Musings on the Future of Books
by Warren Adler @WarrenAdler


In my imaginative life as a writer of fiction, I have always strived to come up with some idea that might invest my novels with something so unique, original and insightful that it could plant the seeds of durability and ensure that my books attract readers beyond my lifetime.

Like all inventors, the works of fiction writers are measured by their uniqueness and the benefits to those who consume them. Broadly defined, those benefits can be insight, elucidation, pleasure, a new path to assess motivation, character, destiny, death, luck, love, hate, evil, greed, cruelty, empathy, sacrifice, pain, war, sexuality and, as Hamlet put it, “the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to.”

In the general summing up of a lifetime immersed in imaginative writing or, for that matter, any art form, one must confront the question of “why” such an activity seems to the practitioner like a requirement of one’s existence, like food or oxygen.

In my experience all fiction writers, including those who toil in the vineyards of formulaic genre, believe that their work merits durability. They most likely harbor secret ambitions that their writings will live beyond their lifetimes. There have been noted examples of such survival, one being the Sherlock Holmes inventions of Arthur Conan Doyle consisting of a mere four novels and numerous popular short stories. But then he did invent the detective story genre.

One can spend a lifetime reaching for the sublime, the truly original and the transcendent. Even in what might be characterized as a long lifetime, perhaps eight or nine decades of awareness and activity on life’s stage in my case, one ascertains how quickly memory can demolish today’s celebrated, glorified, and lauded authors. The illusive nature of notoriety has less lasting life than a grain of dust viewed from a speeding train.

Case in point might be the movie Genius, just released to tepid reviews, about the brilliant editor Maxwell Perkins and his relationship with the author Thomas Wolfe. Perkins was the acknowledged editor of Hemingway and Fitzgerald who was credited with paring down the long and explosively brilliant manuscripts of Wolfe who had his mini moment of glory in the late thirties and forties.

For a budding teenage writer at the time, Wolfe was for me the ultimate example and inspiration of what it meant to be a great novelist. Indeed, there was absolutely no question in my mind and in the literary circles I attended in those days that Wolfe was the enduring example to be followed and worshiped, a sure winner in the sweepstakes of immortality.  Alas, despite even this small movie, a mere outburst of the forgotten past, it was apparent that Wolfe’s flame had flickered, sputtered and died along with my adulation.

And yet, a piece of me still clings to the brilliant invention of the title of his first novel You Can’t Go Home Again, which is an especially profound statement of the truth that deserves everlasting memory.

The irony in this example is that while Wolfe was alleged to harbor illusions of endurance beyond his death, he died at the age of thirty-nine and apparently was consigned to the literary rubbish heap long before the average lifespan of the men in his generation.

With the luxury of long term memory, I have a rather intimidating and arguably unpopular habit of bringing up once hallowed literary names to those as much as two or three generations behind me.

Mention John O’Hara, for example, an extraordinary writer who penned nearly two hundred stories for the prestigious New Yorker in its heyday and the reaction to the name is a blank stare. Worse, even more recent literary celebrities with hallowed names like Updike, Roth, Cheever, Faulkner, the other Wolfe and scores of others fail recognition tests in that generational category. I’ve worked through this group with classics as well with even more shocking results.

Of course, these reactions are specific perhaps to my ever narrowing world, but I am happy to report that for some reason Hemingway and Fitzgerald still have name recognition in this group which offers some hope that there might still be readers around who continue to worship the art form of my choice. There are surely perhaps thousands of similar examples of lost traction and disappearing interest in writers who had once reached the heights of popularity in their times.  But then, one wonders if the road ahead will provide any traction at all for those of us who cling to the idea that reading books has any future at all.

For those of us who spend our lives creating written works of the imagination, the prospect of a robust future for these efforts remind me of the old saw about the boy whistling in the cemetery. We cannot fail to wonder whether there will be time enough left in people’s lives, filled with infinite distractions that eat away the precious minutes of our lives with games, films, spectacles and the endless merry-go-round of entertaining diversions to carve out the quiet time of deep reflection and concentration required to read a worthy book.

Then again, such dire speculations betray a penchant for nostalgia, dwelling too much in the familiar comforts of the lost “home. Perhaps this is the moment to pay tribute to Thomas Wolfe’s great title “You Can’t Go Home Again.” He hit that nail on its head.

Special Offer: Warren Adler is offering the readers of The Write Conversation the download code of the audio version of American Quartet, the first book in the Fiona Fitzgerald series. Be sure to leave your request (and email) in the comments section below.



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Musings on the Future of Books - @WarrenAdler (Click to Tweet)

Warren Adler is best known for The War of the Roses, his masterpiece fictionalization of a macabre divorce turned into the Golden Globe and BAFTA-nominated dark comedy hit starring Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner and Danny DeVito. In addition to the success of the stage adaption of his iconic novel on the perils of divorce, Adler has optioned and sold film rights to more than a dozen of his novels and short stories to Hollywood and major television networks. Warren Adler has just launched Writers of the World, an online community for writers to share their stories about why they began writing. Warren Adler's latest novel, Torture Man, which explores Jihadist terrorism, is available now. His Film/TV projects currently in development include the Hollywood sequel to The War of the Roses - The Children of the Roses, along with other projects including Capitol Crimes, a television series based on Warren Adler’s Fiona Fitzgerald mystery novels, as well as a feature film based on Warren Adler and James Humes’ WWII thriller, Target Churchill. Explore more at www.warrenadler.com and connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.

9 comments:

  1. Edie and Warren, I love audio books and Warren's writing. my email godsfruit@juno.com Thank you for your generosity.

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  2. Mr. Adler ... I'm currently reading "Max Perkins, Editor of Genius" which the movie "Genius" is based upon. I've learned so much about the industry I've somehow managed to become a part of these past twenty years ... about those who paved the road before me (and us). Part of me wishes to have been a fly on the proverbial wall (or is it a proverbial fly on the office wall of Perkins at Scribners?) or to have somehow caught the genius eye of old Max himself. Then again, most of these writers didn't hit pay dirt until after they died. F. Scott Fitzgerald, for example, never knew that his Gatsby would be made into not only one, but two movies and that his work would become required reading in high schools across the U.S.

    So ... maybe not.

    We often say, "If only one person is changed," but really that's fluff. Sure, if one person is changed we can beam a little, but that's not what we really want, as you said. We hope ... we PRAY ... that someone will find a copy of our work in a used bookstore a hundred years from now and say to the one standing next to them, "Oh, my gosh... I can't believe I found this ... I've searched high and low for a copy of..."

    Instead we find our books in used bookstores TODAY and realize that the person whose name we inscribed on the title page thought getting a quarter or credit toward another book a better option than owning our blood, sweat, and tears.

    Oh, well ...

    I thoroughly enjoyed your piece here, especially when you drew "Ole Max" into it!

    And I thank you for your generosity: PenNhnd@aol.com

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  3. Yes, please send me a copy at yvonne@yvoneortega.com

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  4. Such a bittersweet reflection on the fading gleam of literary legacies. And so eloquently written. The songbird cannot remain silent for fear its song vanishes in the wind. Nor can a writer stifle her art. Countless story corpses lay buried in slush piles. Millions of books get stripped of their covers and returned naked to their houses. Our words might trickle away unnoticed. Time threatens to fade even our printed pages into illegible tomes. Whether a single human eye acknowledges our work, we must write. Words flow as our song, for that is how we were made. Though we care enough about our craft to serve with excellence, writers must not allow fickle marketplaces to paralyze their art. Thank you for persevering through the challenges and sharing your prose with the world. I appreciate your willingness to share precious words in this post and am grateful for the opportunity to receive your literary offer. humbleauthor@yahoo.com

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  5. Please send me a code at respkaren@gmail.com. Thanks!

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  6. I must say it is a superb post.

    You might also want to meet the classic author duo L. Hart and Olivia Rupprecht who have already created a classic novel before: "THERE WILL BE KILLING".

    They are back with a bang with another novel which introduces the twist of murder and money in the most thrilling way that one could image.

    The new novel I am talking about is titled: "Making a Killing"

    In case you want to know a short description of the story, here lies the summary:
    The CIA’s most valuable assassin, Agent J.D. Mikel, wasn’t supposed to fall in love with anyone – especially not Kate Morningside, a woman coveted by another powerful world player. When Kate is kidnapped, J.D. is pulled into a dangerous game of cat and mouse, and one false move could cost him everything. Indeed, there are players – and then there are the masters who make the rules only to break them.
    It’s not an even match for those joining an epic search for Kate on a twisted dark hunt down the Mekong River in the midst of a bitterly disputed war: Izzy, a brilliant young psychiatrist assigned to the Army’s 8th Field Hospital and counting the days until he can return home; and his best friend Gregg, a gifted psychologist who served his time only to be driven back to Vietnam by his own inner demons and a rivalry with Mikel that burns as intensely as napalm.

    There are other wars within wars in turbulent 1970. From the CIA to the American mafia to an International cartel helmed by a master of the sadistic, all eyes are on Southeast Asia’s Golden Triangle. And when it comes to a certain cash crop flourishing under the dominion of the mysterious Poppy King, everyone wants a piece of the action. Money talks. The currency? Heroin. It’s a spinning maze of intrigue, politics, and mind games; a hotbed where sex, drugs, and Janis Joplin aren't always a beautiful thing. But even when no one turns out to be quite who or what they seem, one rule remains fast across the Devil’s chessboard: Winners live. Losers die.

    The sequel to the national bestseller THERE WILL BE KILLING, MAKING A KILLING artfully weaves a spellbinding tapestry of dark history, psychology, and seduction – the best and worst of our humanity . . . and the hunger of our hearts.

    In case you are being a bit too curious to know about the novel, take yourself through to the following page:
    http://thestoryplant.com/our-authors/ohn-l-hart-ph-d-and-olivia-rupprecht/our-authorsohn-l-hart-ph-d-and-olivia-rupprechtthere-will-be-killing/

    Thanks.

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  7. I enjoyed your post. "Genius" is a movie that I want to see. Reading your post has enticed me more. Thank you. I would like the audio version of your new book. My email address is sbaker2107@gmail.com

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  8. Oh that one of my books ended up alive and well long after I have cocked up my toes. I would love an audio copy of your book. Please send code to carvergirl@bellsouth.net Thanks and keep writing. It does the world no good if the words stay locked up in your head.

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  9. Would love a copy of your audio book if it's still available. Please send the code to: leezastetson @ aol.com (remove the spaces) Thank you! I know I'll enjoy it.

    ReplyDelete