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Likely Stories

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Keir Graff and editors from Booklist's adult and youth departments write candidly about books, book reviewing, and the publishing industry

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009 12:42 pm
You Can’t Always Have the Cell Tower Blow Up
Posted by: Keir Graff

Disregard, for a moment, what web-enabled mobile devices (aka “cellphones”) are doing to the habit of reading. Matt Richtel (“If Only Literature Could Be a Cell-Phone Free Zone,” New York Times) asks us to consider what these ubiquitous gadgets are doing to reading material.

Must we now hit “delete” on tension that simmers for hundreds of pages as characters wonder, for instance, what’s happened to a lover? Certainly Rick Blaine would have been spared the aching uncertainty of why Ilsa stood him up at the train station in “Casablanca.” (Why didn’t she show up? We were supposed to run away together! Hmm, let me check my messages … O.K., well, that makes sense. Now let’s see if I can find her on Google Earth. …)

Funny passage, but wasn’t the film Casablanca adapted from a play, unnamed New York Times editor? Not the best example for illustrating tension on the page. But point well taken, and there are better examples if you follow the link. Best quote:

“It’s humorous to think that if Joseph has an iPhone, there’s no Judaism,” Mr. Pasha says.

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