Just back from a moving reading by Joan Didion from her book, The Year of Magical Thinking, as part of her visit to UNC for the Morgan Writer-in-Residence Program. I’d read the book earlier. Sally gave it to me for Christmas which when I think of it is quite a odd book to be given. At that time, Sam Garrard had not died. We hadn’t been on our New Year’s walk at which a man about 10 year older than me rushed up the steep hill and fell dead just before we caught up with him. Before our friend and neighbor, David Galinsky was struck down crossing a poorly lit highway. Didion’s book is just right. As she answered questions, one was why did you write the book? To write your way out of grief? “No, I wrote it because I had some news to give.”
After that and a few other exchanges, an aggitated nicely dressed man in his say early 60s bent over the question mic. He started: “Why did you read for a book that any of us could have bought and read for ourselves? Why didn’t you prepare a lecture? I came for a lecture.” (silence)
JD: “Because this is billed as a reading. I was asked to give a reading. So of course I read.” (applause)
Man: “No. It was to be a lecture. I read it was a lecture.” (hisses as he walked the length of the completely filled Memorial Hall and vanished — I think into the night.)
I think he got a lecture, but not as he expected it.
I did check the various publicity and everywhere it said “reading.” Occassionally the word “lecture” also appears. Some times, the word “speak” is used.
As we say down in this neck of the woods, that guy “must not be from around here” or “Where did he get his raisings.”
The upcoming challenges in collections will involve the increasingly digital nature of our lives. following on projects like Microsoft’s my life bits with Gordon Bell and the promise of curation of all kinds of digital personal repreesntations and artifacts of self from Google and Yahoo!, library collections will be faced with doing work that is substantially different than the kind of triage and brokering between publisher and reader.
Challenges will come not just in selection but in preservation and access across time as formats and rules for access change. One particularly tough problem for academic libraries will be to answer the requirement to
preserve datasets from various research groups for periods up to two decades. Think for a second, what data from 1986 can you access today? You see the problem immediately.
Location of collections will also be a challenge. Expect more artifacts to be found in professors’ offices or their computers or co-located on several networked locations.
I mentioned that I had just finished “Everything is Illuminated” by Jonathan Safran Foer. Almost immediately, Marcy wrote to ask what I thought of it. I don’t have time to give the book the review it deserves, but here are brief impressions: there is so much to like here: the style. the imagination. the smart way to recyle I B Singer’s magic visions, the deep look into the complex dreams and burdens of Eastern European youth. I cried several times many of those times from laughter. I too have owned a large friendly farting dog. But my ghosts are far less known, understood and remain unconfronted. One of the best books I’ve read in a while (and I’ve been on a tear through some very good books).