Sunday, January 24, 2010

Quick and dirty? I guess not...

So yesterday's post was all on how I'd like the GMAT life - quick, no waiting, life in perpetual motion. The more I think about how life is these days, I guess we are indeed inching towards that end goal.

Till a few decades ago, books and fiction had Great Expectations from the Mayor of Casterbridge or Tess of the D'urbervilles, where descriptions of the context covered more than half the book. Stories were replete with maps, descriptions of the perfect evenings, or detailed descriptions of a lady's beauty, ending with a strong line like 'Estella was between pretty and beautiful'! Short stories were so short that a 500 page tome typically housed 6 stories! I can understand the motivations behind the voluminous mode of writing back then! They were the dark ages, and unlike the days of today, people truly had precious little to do!

And then the Chase era began. The race against time and a villain to reach the truth. James Hadley Chase, Erle Stanley Gardner (maybe it was the fact that they all had 3 words in their names, that made them write crisper!). But that era pushed the erstwhile granddaddies of fiction into the hall of fame called 'literature'. A dusty corner of huge school libraries (where only the bold literature graduates dared to venture into) was dedicated to those who created the genre called fiction.

But even that got too slow, and Arthur Hailey and Robert Ludlum made their grand entry. Hailey and Ludlum, had a following, and they became 'thinking writers' - it took one some cogitative effort to fathom the plot, but the die-hard loyalists never left their side. For a while they caught the peoples' fancy, till a certain Mr. Sheldon made his foray into fiction. After that, speedy, crisp, page-turning writing became the flavor of the season.

Take cricket for instance. I know of cricket fans who to date spend their winter holidays watching the Boxing Day test match! But the proportion of such fans has since come down tremendously. At a point of time a decade ago, people spent hours watching a one-day series. Great duels were set as day-and-night matches to draw bigger crowds. Then came twenty20. If one can see 2 matches (4 teams) on one day, why spend time watching 50 overs per team? There is only so much a team can do, and what they can't achieve in 20 overs, they can't achieve in 50 overs, became the belief. Short and crisp was the mantra here as well!

Now I wonder how far this can go. Can it go the way we used to play cricket as kids? One over per team - since all of us used to want to bat (and only one kid used to bring the bat to the game)? That sure can be fun to watch, although unless the teams dressed in sharp contrasts like say red teams and blue teams, the viewer would be stumped! English country decorum of white cricket uniforms would have to go out the window! As for books - Shakespeare once wrote - Brevity is the soul of wit. Little did he know while writing Hamlet that this would indeed be personified in the art of writing several years thence! So brace yourselves for the one paragraph short story in the future. I sure don't think I can write those!! (My blog is a testimony to that :) )


Amit Goyal said...

Almost like a book vs a blog vs twitter!!

Sindhu Subramaniam said...

@ Amit - couldn't agree more... perfect comparison :)