Wednesday, 17 August 2022

The appeal of newspapers

 The appeal of newspapers was altogether different from the appeal of books. Books were solid and permanent, and newspapers were flimsy, ephemeral throwaways, discarded the instant after they had been read, to be replaced by another one the next morning, every morning a fresh paper for the new day. Books moved forward in a straight line from beginning to end, whereas newspapers were always in several places at once, a hodgepodge of simultaneity and contradiction, with multiple stories coexisting on the same page, each one exposing a different aspect of the world, each one asserting an idea or a fact that had nothing to do with the one that stood beside it, a war on the right, an egg-and-spoon race on the left, a burning building at the top, a Girl Scout reunion at the bottom, big things and small things mixed together, tragic things on page 1 and frivolous things on page 4, winter floods and police investigations, scientific discoveries and dessert recipes, deaths and births, advice to the lovelorn and crossword puzzles, touchdown passes and debates in Congress, cyclones and symphonies, labor strikes and transatlantic balloon voyages, the morning paper necessarily had to include each one of those events in its columns of black, smudgy ink, and every morning Ferguson exulted in the messiness of it all, for that was what the world was, he felt, a big, churning mess, with millions of things happening in it at the same time.

Paul Auster: 4 3 2 1

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