Archive for July, 2008

Fahrenheit 1200

Posted in Books, Robots Scare Me on July 27, 2008 by rkunzig

As the Kindle prepares for its second iteration, Luddite bibliophiles are perhaps stoking their blowtorches to a toasty 1200 degrees Fahrenehit–the temperature at which plastic burns.  Take that, Montag.

Seriously, though, hardly a day passes without an, ahem, conflagration on the interwebs over the “death of print media” at the hands of e-book readers like Amazon’s wildly popular Kindle.  These discussions inevitably lead to the general decline in American literacy; a notable example is a recent press conference held by Steve Jobs, who doubted the Kindle would succeed because Americans don’t read anymore.  “The whole conception is flawed at the top,” says Jobs, “because people don’t read anymore.”

Jobs’s very recognition of the Kindle was enough to set speculators and gossipers a-tittering.  With a pronouncement from the father of iCulture, the question no longer became whether or not Apple would produce an e-reader, but whether Steve Jobs could save American literacy.

In the Guardian Book Review, voices sound off on the iLiad (for shame!): Peter Conrad against, Naomi Alderman for.

Kirsten Reach, the progressive bibliophile, pipes up from the back with a few suggestions.  She has, of course, baked cookies for the occasion.

I’m withholding an opinion on e-readers until I can get my hands on one.  The sheer implications of its success make my head spin.  Oprah put Marquez on the bestseller list and made Faulkner summer reading–could a mainstream predilection for expensive, shiny things give reading a jump start in America?


Call the Roller of Big Cigars

Posted in The Real World on July 25, 2008 by rkunzig

On May 17 2008 they handed me a diploma and returned me to the World, blinking and kind of stunned.  Four years of my life had passed like a fold in paper, and the last four months especially felt like no time at all.  I remember waking up in Columbus, Ohio on the 18th to a formation of sprinklers tick-tick-ticking spurts of water across a beautiful backyard.  In my half-sleep delirium, I though the Real World must be some kind of eden, some strange fresh-smelling new life without papers, without exams, without petty, unmerited stress.  It was charming.

For about five minutes.

For those who didn’t catch the last season of The Wire, here’s the moral of the story: print media is taking a swan dive, from the national dailies to the community weeklies.  Sam Zell’s takeover of the Tribune has so far been marked by retreats, causing columnists to openly wonder whether or not the media conglomerate can remain financially solvent.  What isn’t failing is consolidating: Rupert Murdoch marches on, gobbling up The Wall Street Journal without shame (but thankfully, not without protest).

On a practical level, this means a glut of experienced reporters on the job market.  For every job posting on, count on at least forty responses, most of which are embarrassingly overqualified.  For the aspiring reporter–one year’s experience as an intern, a solid GPA and an array of bright, shiny references–spunk and ambition don’t cut the mustard.

You can guess what the past few months have been like for me.  For those who can’t, a visual aid.

Thank god–or chance, luck, whatever–I finally landed a job at a local quarterly.  The diploma was a start, but adulthood can only truly commence with a desk, corkboard, filing cabinet and telephone extension.  In the months to come, the diligent reader can expect plenty of  smirking anecdotes from my professional life, each sodden with irony and choking on self-satisfaction.  Regular content will proceed as if, after January 3 2008, I didn’t drop off the face of the earth.

Oh, dry those eyes.  I missed you too.