Or at least less apt to struggle through difficult, rewarding books. You see, I was (belatedly) inspired by The American Scene’s “Fall of the U.S.A.” series to pick up John Dos Passos and give The 42nd Parallel an honest-to-goodness shot. So far, it’s rough going. I’m only 50 pages in and I have to force myself to sit down and actually read the damn book, as opposed to skimming a few pages while simultaneously checking my email and glancing at the Wizards game playing in the background.
I’ve become incredibly adept at multitasking. I like jumping in and out of books that are easily digested in small, thought-provoking chunks. I’m also quite good getting a sense of what a book is about through fragments bouncing around the Internet; a blog post here, a New Yorker article there, and voila! I can talk about Dos Passos’ place in the American literary canon without looking like a complete fool. But I’m losing my ability to sit down and actually read the damn book. And even if I am perfectly capable of masking this deficiency in polite company, I feel like a fraud. So for the next few weeks, I’m going to try to read the damn book.
All of which is to say that this article seems a lot more persuasive now than when I first read it.