Last week’s issue of the New Yorker was loaded with dystopian fiction.
In his New Yorker story this week, “Lenny Hearts Eunice,” comic novelist Gary Shteyngart (author of most recently, Absurdistan) imagined a world where digital books have replaced print books and teenagers hate the smell of moldy text. A few pages later, Laura Miller wrote a great essay about dystopian YA fiction.
Here’s an excerpt from one character’s blog, in Shteyngart’s story: “What kind of freaked me out was that I saw Len read a book. (No, it didn’t smell. He uses Pine-Sol on them.) He came home from work looking really down, and I guess he didn’t even notice that I caught him reading. And I don’t mean scanning a text like we did in EuroTrash Classics with that ‘Chatterhouse of Parma,’ I mean seriously reading. … I sneaked a peek and it was that Russian guy Tolesoy he was reading (I guess it figures, cause Lenny’s parents are from Russia). I thought Ben was really brain-smart because I saw him streaming ‘Chronicles of Narnia’ in that cafe in Rome, but this Tolesoy was a thousand-page-long book, not a stream, and Lenny was on page 930, almost finished.”
Do you believe this kind of illiterate society is part of our digital future?