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Bookmark Now: Writing in Unreaderly Times: A Collection of All Original Essays from Today's (and Tomorrow's) Young Authors on the State of the Art ... Hustle--in the Age of Information Overload Paperback – May 24, 2005

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; First Edition edition (May 24, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465078443
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465078448
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,708,161 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

Book Description: The sky is NOT caving in on American letters. Far from it. The immensely talented writers in this collection all came of age professionally in the last decade--and all chose reading and writing over another more lucrative and decidedly flashier pursuits. They became producers and consumers of the written word at the most media-saturated time in history, a time when books face greater cultural competition than ever before. Why? How did they come to writing as a calling? What's the relevance of literature when the very term seems quaint? Bookmark Now answers these questions--and many more you probably never thought to ask. Like: What to do when your rabid fans start writing fiction about you? Why don't you have to choose between John Updike and Grand Theft Auto? And, can you really get paid for it?

The end result is not only a voyeuristic peek into the creative lives of today's writers, but a timely glimpse into a changing book business. Storytelling, it will become clear-as a means of self-realization, community building, or simply putting one's point across-is NOW more relevant than ever before. Exclusive

To promote his book, Bookmark Now, Kevin Smokler took a rather unorthodox approach to the traditional author tour--he conducted it from the comfort of his own home. In an exclusive essay for, Smokler writes about the pros and cons of conducting a Virtual Book Tour.

Read Kevin Smokler's essay on conducting a Virtual Book Tour

Authors Featured in Bookmark Now

Neal Pollack

Nell Freudenberger

Nicola Griffith

Adam Johnson

Tracy Chevalier

Meghan Daum

Glen David Gold

Tom Bissell

Dan Kennedy

Authors Featured in Bookmark


From Publishers Weekly

The goal of this collection of essays from some of America's younger or emerging novelists is to disprove the dire warnings regarding the disappearance of a reading public. Smokler, a book critic and commentator, passionately sets the tone when he assails the sense of impending catastrophe that has gripped the literati since the 2004 publication of the NEA report Reading at Risk, which he accuses of double-talk. He brings together writers who, faced with other choices—careers in film, video production, the vast landscape of Internet possibilities—still opted to pursue writing as a career. This is a varied bunch, from Christian Bauman, who tells of discovering Hemingway as a soldier in Somalia untutored in literature, to Paul Flores, a Latino spoken-word artist who began writing in response to California's Proposition 187, which denied public education to immigrants. These writers have used all available avenues—MFA programs, stints as journalists, blogs, exposure to other countries and cultures—to find their subject matter and voices, whether lyrical, such as bestselling author Tracy Chevalier, or satirical, as in Robert Lanham's The Hipster Handbook. In addition to showcasing individual talents, the book illustrates a generational posture: these writers are relaxed and confident in their audience. Most write with ease and immediacy, as if the space between writer and reader has grown measurably closer. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By James McNally on June 2, 2005
Format: Paperback
Kevin Smokler was sick of hearing about the "death of publishing" for which the internet was supposedly responsible. So he went out and rounded up more than two dozen actual dead-tree writers to prove that it's just not true. The result is an enlightening and entertaining look at how a new generation of writers has come of age in the "digital" era.

My favourites among the 24 essays include the one where Paul Collins reads through 121 years of the proto-blog "Notes and Queries", and the one where Neal Pollack discovers fan fiction written about himself. Also, the one where Nell Freudenberger talks about reading her short stories to students in China while reading her father's teenaged journals from his trip to Communist Yugoslavia and Hungary. And the one that alternately mocks and adores the Eggers/McSweeney's/Believer magazine cabal. Oh, yeah, and the one where Glen David Gold confesses to Googling himself obsessively. Meghan Daum's essay about the vocal tics of the NPR set was interesting (though it would have made more sense as a spoken word piece), and Pamela Ribon's tale of how she accidentally became a "real writer" kept me smiling and reading. There were a few dead spots, though, mostly the stuff about whether an MFA in Creative Writing was a useful detour or not. In fact, the pieces I liked the most had the least to do with writing as an academic subject.

Overall, the book has a higher-than-average ratio of good essays to not-so-good. It will give you an idea of the current state of the "writing life" and will bring you optimism where you may have been feeling none. If anything, there is more writing (and more importantly, more publishing) going on than ever before in human history.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Jason Toney on June 17, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Inspiring for both the reader and the writer in us all. Reading the passionate words of our contemporaries about the road to writing (amongst other things) in this multimedia landscape had the potential to feel as if one was watching wizened literary giants look down from the mountaintop and cast judgmental glares down on us, the lazy reader. "Bookmark Now" doesn't do that. There is no rarefied air here. This is like having a beer or a coffee and cigarettes with some college friends and a lively conversation about life, love and literature (or secrets, sex and sentences if you prefer) breaks out. Recommended to anyone who needs to be reminded why reading is fun and writing is sometimes divine.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 26, 2005
Format: Paperback
Finally someone has come up with some solid evidence that, contrary to media predictions of the death of reading and writing in the age of instant computer blogs and ebooks, the art of writing and the art of reading are very much alive and well and prospering. Those of us addicted to the written page, whether writing or finding that intangible joy of turning the paper pages of books of fiction, of poetry, of adventure, of any manner of brain-nourishing information that can be opened, bookmarked, and closed like a comfortable friend, never far from our side, can breathe a sigh of relief.

Kevin Smokler has gathered essays and comments by contemporary writers whose topics range from MFA writing programs, self-help writers' books, blogs, googling, ebooks, and the frustrations and joys of the advent of the computer and its role in the writer's and the reader's lives. The fears of 'getting published' are calmed by a discussion of all of the manner of publishing houses that assist first time writers as well as the heretofore unnoted plethora of books being ground out by the Big Name Houses.

For a bit of encouragement, a dollop of humor, and some very fine writing from those practicing their art at present, the readers and writers (and reviewers!) are invited to the feast. Indulge thyself! Now if someone could just write as hopefully about the decline of classical music recordings.... Highly recommended. Grady Harp, June 05
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Joshua Greenberg on June 15, 2005
Format: Paperback
The thing that strikes me most about Bookmark Now is that it manages to let the reader peek behind the curtain of contemporary writing without feeling in any way cute or false; put simply, reading the pieces in this book feels like hanging out with the cool kids at the edge of the cafeteria, except without any of the self-doubting baggage of whether you really belong there. While each author has a distinctive voice, virtually every essay is written in an honest and direct fashion, cleanly addressing the reader without getting bogged down in a given conceit. To be treated with such straightforward respect by a collection of authors is a remarkable thing, and it's a testament to the editor's vision that he managed to impose his own abhorrence of pretense on an edited volume of 24 diverse writers. The essays don't explicitly speak to each other, but they resonate on certain points - the connection between the tools we use to write and our relationship to our readers, the role of education and credentialing, whether the life of a writer is necessarily solitary and neurotic. These are the points of flux in the contemporary world of writing, and while there are no real answers, Kevin Smokler is trying to ensure that we're all part of the discussion.
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