As an avid reader, I am often amazed how much of our written materials are about the past (or the near past) and the future (and the near future) but never about the present. Is present too boring? Or is too real? Or is it too incomplete to merit a careful and long deliberation.
I find the present more interesting, because it allows me to look at the past and decide how far we have come. It also makes me wonder about the future. As cinematographer KK Barrett said during a conversation, “It’s always going to be worse than now, or it’s always going to be so much easier than now. Why don’t we make it easier now, rather than wait for it? That’s a lazy disconnection.”
The books in particular are about a time before and time after. It must be because the publishing industry is too slow to deal with the present and too limited in its ability to understand the world around us. With digital publishing and instant distribution, why aren’t we thinking about writing books about the present.
I think when you take the near past, combine it with the near future and anchor the topic in the present, one could actually develop a novel and new class of books befitting our present times, where we have limited time to read books and have so many demands on our attention. I am sure we have to think about books not as a medium for the present audience, but also as a medium for the emergent readers who are growing up with proliferation of screens in their lives.
I have read so many articles about Donald Trump and what he is doing to the political system, and it would make a wonderful – not too long, about 75-to-125 pages, to be read on a cross country flight, and updated almost daily (or weekly) to give present more context. The magazines don’t have the resources for doing such deeper book-length pieces. The advertising is scarce and so are editorial pages. But they have the resources to publish these mid-format books about now.
I don’t know about others but I am always looking for people who give present more nuance, context and depth.
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