A: The director had the notion that he could put the entire book up on the screen. Well, you can't do that.
You have to pick out the story that you want to tell and put that on the screen. And so he made this four-hour film and then he found that if he was actually going to get it released, he would have to cut it down to two hours.
Q: Does this issue of length apply to books, too? Is a 1,000-page book somehow too much?
A: For modern readers, yeah. People apparently only read mystery stories of any length. With mysteries, the longer the better and people will read any damn thing. But the indulgent, 800-page books that were written a hundred years ago are just not going to be written anymore and people need to get used to that. If you think you're going to write something like The Brothers Karamazov or Moby-Dick, go ahead. Nobody will read it. I don't care how good it is, or how smart the readers are. Their intentions, their brains are different.
(Photo via Jim Herrington)
I've spent a fair time thinking about how mediums relate to different eras. I recall a favorite quote wherein artist Marcel Duchamp said he had no patience for books over 100 pages long. (I don't have the quote. Make do with the summary.) Always a future teller, I suspect he understood how the 20th century would erode our attention spans.
Recently an acquaintance queried me why none of our Ivy League peers had ambitions toward tackling The Novel.
I floated this by another acquaintance recently, a slightly younger individual with a background similar to my own. Why aren't kids these days aspiring to create literature? Will music claim them all?
"I've seen the best minds of my generation destroyed by organic farming," he said.
End of quote.