Joanne McNeil notices something about contemporary novels:
The average fictional character is either so thoroughly disinterested [sic] in email, social media, and text messages he never thinks of it, or else hastily mentions electronic communications in the past tense. Sure, characters in fiction may own smart phones, but few have the urge to compulsively play with the device while waiting to meet a friend or catch a flight. This ever-present anachronism has made it so that almost all literary fiction is science fiction, a thought experiment as to what life might be like if we weren't so absorbed in our iPhones but instead watched and listened to the world around us at a moment's rest...
The ADHD, multitasking, always-distracted world of today runs counter to the linear, leisurely-paced storytelling that makes a literary novel. To present email and text messages as they often feel would create an experimental novel, as if descending from Brion Gysin and William S. Burroughs cut-ups. Communicating with technology might be just a little too difficult for even the most skilled novelists among us to describe yet. In the meantime, the distraction-free world of contemporary fiction is an idyllic respite for the rest of us overwhelmed with it.
Perhaps all the novelists with an accurate understanding of what it's like to constantly check email, Facebook and Twitter never finished their books.
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