I learned something recently, friends and foes. I learned that old authors never die, they simply get romanticized and commercialized to the point of dissolving in their own mythology. Take, for example, the five upcoming reboots of the Wizard of Oz, or the BBC movie based on Dickens' affair. Perhaps you're interested in Emily Dickinson, outlaw, or want to see Mrs. Dalloway at 85. No matter how hard authors try, they get reinvented by their works, and are simultaneously creations of their environment, as shown by the footprints of the King James Bible in American literature.
Sometimes authors want to seem younger, and then you get Grisham putting together a YA book trailer or a children's adaptation of Obama's memoir. Writers try to go back to their roots, and then you get Meyer's grassroots Eclipse movement, or a ten year memo back to a younger author-self. Sometimes journalists have to brand themselves to keep doing what they do, while people like Neil Gaiman need to brand themselves by things they won't do. And sometimes you just need to be the pony, authors. Be the pony. (It makes sense if you read the whole article, I swear!)
Even the greatest of authors can feel imprisoned by their mythologies. Some other people just feel incarcerated. Who will step up to the plate to write great American war literature this century? Who will judge the best and worst fiction of the financial crisis? Who will judge the value of a New York Times book review for what it really is? Who will tell us what is up with nudity (in an academic sense, of course)? And how is James Frey everywhere?
This is what we have the Internet for, people. Sure, some might (justly) question the environmental friendliness of the e-reader, but writ large, the interwebs is (are?) infallible. Well, except for all of the questions about Facebook's privacy settings and the publishing pages it created (oh look, Cory Doctorow already abandoned that sinking ship, just in time for PMN to join. Privacy concerns be damned!) and the ethics of e-book information collection. And some worry that the Internet is going to ruin new authors. But publishers can surely learn from Farmville, and Garth Nix is for e-books—how can anyone be against Garth Nix?
These are the eternal questions, my friends (and foes!). Until next week, or later today at Combreviations.