The Daily Show‘s correspondent John Hodgman suggests that to save bookstores from closing (as Borders has recently done, we might try altering the in-store “entertainment”:
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”Instead of hosting ‘readings’, why not host exciting live ‘writings’? Bring the author in, tie him to a desk, and make him write a novel to order.”
He’s joking, but you know what? I kind of like that idea. I remember how thrilling it was to watch a painter practice his craft by copying Vermeer’s “Allegory on the Art of Painting” in the Kunsthistoriches Museum in Vienna a couple of years ago. I know — we were literally watching paint dry: How exciting could it have been? But to see the process unfold right there in front of us was fascinating, and while I can’t imagine watching an author furiously scribble away at an entire novel would be very engaging, I think about that poet in Before Sunrise, sitting on the bank of the Danube, scribbling poems for passersby in exchange for spare change, and I kind of like the romance of the idea. Imagine going into a bookstore — or any venue — and giving an author an idea, even just a character name or a title or a first line, and then wandering the stacks for a few hours, picking up an interesting book or two, and when you return to the author, she hands you a short, custom-made story, written right there on the spot just for you.
I should totally try this.