Henry Miller Memorial Library

Big Sur, California
"Chaos is the score upon which reality is written."

Are we living in a Golden Age for writing? (Plus shout-outs to Archers of Loaf, Book of Ecclesiastes, and my favorite song from Magic Kingdom)

If it’s one thing we hate here at the Library, it’s misplaced nostalgia for an age that never existed.

People fall into this trap all the time.  The “good old days,” meaning when, exactly?  The 1950s when housewives were tranquilized zombies?  No thanks.  (Fun fact: it’s the 50th anniversary of “The Feminist Mystique.“)  The 1850s?  No way!  The 1750s?  I still gotta say no.

In fact, the only era for which it’s appropriate to wax nostalgic is the mid-to-late 1990s.  Clinton was President, budgets were surplusing, and your Ford Escort station wagon was overflowing with new tapes by Cardinal, Archers of Loaf, and Polvo.


Pax Americana indeed!!

But generally speaking, nostalgia stinks.  After all, to quote the Good Book (if you ignore the stuff about genocide): “Do not say: How is it that former times were better than these? For it is not in wisdom that you speak this.” (Ecclesiastes 7:10)

That said, many folks continue to complain.  And some in the literature field pine for a long gone golden age when Proust was coming out of everyone’s ears.  “Ahhh,” these backward-looking folks lament (although we can’t think of any in particular), “if only things were like they were back in [mumbled so we can't make out the year]; that was the best time to be a writer!”

Well hey, guess what.  NOW is the best time to be a writer!  So says this interesting piece in Esquire.  Money quote:

“Writers have always been whiners. For nearly a hundred years, since at least the time of F. Scott Fitzgerald, the death of the novel has been presaged. And now, egged on by BuzzFeed and video games and just general hypercaffeinated, e-mail-all-the-time ADHD, the book is apparently, finally, about to die. At least we’ll have good stuff to read while we wait.

This fall alone, the number of big books published by major writers is astounding: Michael Chabon, Zadie Smith, Junot Díaz, Martin Amis, Ian McEwan, Salman Rushdie, and about a half dozen others. Not that the list has stopped anyone from complaining. Literary circles have been so full of pity for so long that they can’t accept the optimistic truth: We’re living in a golden age for writers and writing.

Fire up the “Carousel of Progress!!!!”


Read the whole thing here, and then intelligently riddle us this: is this a golden age for writers?

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