In a recent post I speculated that people who declare that they love to read and devour any source from cereal boxes to soup cans might be expressing a need for the physical act of reading, almost like autism. That conjecture is probably a bit over the edge but recently I have been exposed to a few readers who have problems with reading unless the text is physically familiar and easy to read like they were taught in the second grade. To me, and coming from the other direction, this also suggests that the physical process of reading must be familiar and must avoid complexity or controversy lest the reader get a little out of sorts and consider banging their head against the wall.
I was reading a short notice announcing the finalists for the 2014 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction and was intrigued when it was pointed out that there was no overlap between this award and either the National Book Award or the National Book Critics Circle Award. Think of it: three prestigious literature awards each had a different view of what they considered the best recent fiction. Could that be possible? Was there collusion?
Here are the three lists of finalists for fiction:
When I went to college nothing was computerized. I had a friend who regularly went out to Cal Tech and would sit at his kitchen table for hours pouring over thick stacks of printer paper. Computers were at Cal Tech and Shakespeare was at the UC. By the early 1970s I was working with computers, mostly for data communications and data analysis. A little more than five years my technological experiences went from my first electric typewriter to programming the then mighty IBM 360. What a combination: steeped in poetry and drama yet being paid to conduct traffic studies and coordinate message switching activities in the telecommunications industry.