Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Financial Lives Of The Poets by Jess Walter

The big-picture decline of my newspaper is no different than the decline of newspapers in most towns. Specifically, the time line looks like this:

1950s: TV arrives and it turns out that most people prefer having their news delivered by a guy on TV with molded plastic hair, smoking a cigarette.

1960s: Evolution and improved diet cause the first father in history to give up reading the paper on the toilet . . . much like the first fish that walked on land.

1970s: Literacy and newspapers reach their peak just as, ironically, actual reading begins to decline. (Side note: the guy reading the TV news quits smoking on air.)

1980s: Cable TV arrives and steals ad dollars from newspapers; soon entire channels are devoted to 24-hours-a-day news with three main components: (1) stories about celebrities, (2) police chases filmed from helicopters and (3) angry political hacks yelling at one another.

1990s: The Internet arrives, stealing even more advertising and compelling the last reader under forty to cancel his daily newspaper subscription so he can devote more time to masturbating to online porn.

2000s: eBay and craigslist combine to kill off classified advertising and car and house listings, which turn out to have been the financial backbone of newspapers. The recession crushes display advertisers, coolly finishing the job.

Present: After a long period of newspaper panic, publishers do increasingly stupid things to drive away what readers they once had, speeding up their impending death, which is now estimated to be somewhere around 2015.

Snippet from The Financial Lives Of The Poets, by Jess Walter. My review can be read here.


DarkoV said...

Great review of a great book. THoroughly enjoyed Mr. Walter's book. Read the poem about the large women's underwear from "the Finanial LIves.." to my wife and had to stop several times as I was crying with laughter.

Book's a royal hoot! Readers! Follow Mr. WP's advice and get thyself a copy. Pronto!

Whisky Prajer said...

Indeed -- that poem is a much funnier snippet than the one I've included here; I went with his smart-ass assessment of the state of news just because I thought it was bang-on, like so much of what observes.