18 July 2008

The Punted Word

And we're back!

Associated Press writer Ted Anthony finds much to cheer for in his review of the new anthology 85 Years Of Great Writing In Time (Time Books, 560 pages, $26.95). As the title, imprint and probaby copyright policy indicate, the book is a compilation of pieces that first appeared in Time magazine. Anthony seems to feel that the collection is a good counter argument to the present day rigors of visual and sonic impact, or, as he puts it –“an increasingly visual culture that defines itself through images and rarely slows down to read.”

But when he says, " It's a robust reaffirmation of the printed word," I have to reach for my blue pencil. The book doesn't show the value of the printed word. It shows the value of the word, so help me Homer. When we, I mean, our shivering little species, moved from the oral tradition to getting it in writing, there probably were people who lamented the way the written word replaced the spoken word.

In his review, Anthony notes, quite rightly good journalism can impart thoughts, information, feeling, social context and passion without once resorting to bullet points or condensed "news you can use." One argument against the written or any other kind of word is Anthony's observation that "The decades unfold before us like a Billy Joel song:” But then again it's a literary review and not a music review.

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