Sunday, May 18, 2008

A splendid time ...

Update: See, I told you: Blogs and Race coming together.

Post has been bumped up.

... Nigel Beale (shown standing in our patio garden) came to Philly on Friday to take in the Philadelphia Book Festival and was gracious enough to pay me a couple of visits. As a result, any lingering doubts I may have had about the value and the future of blogging have been completely dispelled. You had only to watch Nigel taking pictures at the Book Trader over on Second Street to know that Nigel loves books - their look, their smell, their magic. Talking to him about literature is like talking with someone about mutual friends.
Not that many years ago, he would have been a book lover in Canada and I a reviewer in Philadelphia and anything we knew about each would have been purely accidental. Thanks to blogging we are part of a worldwide network of kindred spirits. Admission to that network is based on mutual love of books and reading and writing. Note to newspaper editors: People like Nigel and I - and Dave and Paul and Maxine and Patrick - are the people you should go to if you want to know what people who care about books and reading are really interested in. And politics and policy do not top the list, even though it appears to exhaust the list for said editors, most of whom couldn't quote a line of poetry if their lives depended on it, have never really listened to the Bach cello suites, or stood in front of a Sargent for several minutes just taking it in. It's called civilization.
I think I was able to give Nigel a glimpse of Philadelphia rather different from what the guidebooks would serve up. We had dinner last night at the Mexican restaurant around the corner (La Lupe), followed by some hot chocolate at the RIM Cafe, and thence to Molly's Bookstore, along the way encountering some of the local denizens. Next it was off to photograph some other book shops. In between, just great conversation.
The fact is, most newspapers no longer come close to providing much of interest to reading enthusiasts, because they haven't a clue as to what they are interested in. Reading litblogs would help, but I suspect the world they would encounter there would seem alien to them. After all, what kind of people would prefer reading Shakespeare to reading David Broder? Nevertheless, that global network of book lovers is only going to grow and strengthen. Whatever the future of publishing may be, it is a future that will be inextricably bound up with that network

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