Correspondences

01Feb09

“The question of the audience of a book, and the connection of the audience to the author, is one that’s currently in a state of flux. Historically authors were something like mother sea turtles; publishing a book was something like laying eggs on a beach to hatch as they might: a reader might find a book, or a reader might not. An author could conceivably write a book for a single reader, but this doesn’t happen very often. A reader could, in the days before the Internet, find the author’s contract information from the publisher and write a letter to the author, but that happened comparatively rarely. The relationship between readers and authors is different now: after reading Greenman’s book I emailed him wondering if he’d been influenced by Ray Johnson’s work – no, he said – a behavior I find myself indulging in more and more lately. Greenman’s work, like that of Johnson’s before him, anticipates a new kind of relation between the author and the reader. The reworking of this relationship in increasingly varied ways will be the most significant aspect of the way our reading changes as it moves from the printed page to the networked screen.”

Dan Visel at if:book on Ben Greenman’s Correspondences (Hotel St. George Press, 2008), another book I helped to publicize last fall, in an extraordinary piece on interactions between readers and writers of this moment. Some of what he says is what was on my mind when The New You Project was created.

See also: Ben Greenman for Jack Spade.

— LAUREN CERAND

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