Friday, September 16, 2011

in which i sing the praises of Star Wars and posit an interesting question

Happy Friday to all!

I'm pretty stoked and not just because it's Friday (besides, when you work from home, Friday is pretty much just another day...). Anywho, WHY am I so super excited about this particular Friday?!? I'm glad you asked (you did ask, didn't you?). My husband, awesome, groovy fellow that he is, bought us last minute tickets to see the Atl. Braves (hopefully) destroy my least favorite baseball team of all time (*cough* the mets *cough*) and...AND...tonight, at Turner Field, is...wait for it...

STAR WARS NIGHT!!!! (*cue epic John Williams music NOW*)

I'll be getting my nerd on AND enjoying a baseball game in this lovely fall weather! I am now going to attempt to stop dancing around the room humming the Imperial March long enough to finish this post.

The Office of Letters and Light-those splendiferous people who go to painstaking and outlandish limits to bring us NaNoWriMo every November- posited a very interesting question on their blog the other day. It appears there is a new feature for the Kindle in beta-testing which will allow readers to highlight passages on their e-books and ask the author questions regarding that passage. Hmmm, says I. Sounds kind of neat. I could send Neil Gaiman (*swoon*) a message about Danse Macabre or J.K. Rowling a question about The Half Blood Prince.

However, and this is where the post gets interesting, the author of the blog asks: Will this feature take away from the reader's experience and, in her words, "demote (the readers) interpretation to a thing of lesser importance?" This got me thinking. We all read passages in books that leave us scratching our heads, making funny faces at the pages and staying up waaaay past midnight contemplating the deeper meaning of said passage. Would I want to be in the middle of a story, have one of those moments hit me and pause to send the author a message?

The connection factor between author and reader would skyrocket. But, and this is a big but, it seems to me it would not only detract from the experience of getting lost in a book, but it would take away the delicious mystery of reading. There will always be things we read in and put into our own novels that people aren't going to get. That's the joy of writing and reading. Mystery. Wonder. The joy of picking a book up after years of having read it and being able to contemplate something afresh, possibly entertaining a new angle.

What are you thoughts on this? I'm just curious. I can see the pros and the cons of it.

The author leaves us with this question to consider as well: what if we could ask questions of dead authors? I'll admit, THAT would be seriously cool and I'd totally jump on that bandwagon. I'd love to chat with Hemingway, L'Engle, Wilde and Poe. Which brings me to another, perhaps more profound question: are there e-books in the afterlife? Hmmm....

Happy Pondering!


  1. I certainly wouldn't be one to ask questions of authors as I read, but I think it's an interesting tool.

    Have fun at the game. What a nice husband!

  2. I think it's an interesting idea. Personally I don't think I'd use it much, since I love finding the meaning of something on my own. But I can see where the interaction could be a lot of fun--and thought-provoking in its own way.

  3. That's very interesting.. it would be pretty cool to be able to do that.. I'm not sure if I would, because I do like to form my own opinions too.

  4. It would be awesome to be able to ask some questions of my favorite authors. NOthing deep or complicated, just basic "Why did you..."

  5. I would not stop in the middle of reading to message an author. I wouldn't want to interrupt the magic like that. :-)

  6. I think it would be awkward and too much pressure to have readers asking questions while they're reading. And, yes, it would stop them from using their own imagination and brains to make connections. I also see it as opening the doors to criticism before you get to the end of a story and read how all is resolved (unless it isn't, in which case the author deserves the questions and criticisms.)
    That said, I'd love to have a chat with Louisa May Alcott.

  7. That last paragraph would be an interesting book idea. :-)

    I think it's a bit impractical, as people who really want to ask could probably do it on twitter and get more or less the same (likely non-existant) reply. It's not as if best-selling authors will be able to field all the questions and having someone else answering them would kind of miss the point...

  8. Interesting idea, but I wonder if it would just bombard authors with questions. I like what you said about the mystery of some things and getting lost in the story.

  9. I don't like to have my reading momentum interrupted and stall the continuity of the story, but I guess it's good to walk away from a book with something else besides the reading experience. I'd love to ask authors questions about what passages mean sometime, but over all I think a book should stand on its own and allow the readers to make their own interpretations.

    Tossing It Out


Well, hello! I'm so glad you made it. Come inside and sit by the hearth. I'll take your coat and hat. The kettle is singing and there's cake and candles and good conversation. Settle in and make yourself at home. Don't mind the wolfhounds; they're friendly if you give them a bit of lemon curd.