Think Aloud explores book-related discussions encompassing reading, writing, blogging, and perhaps newsworthy content. The focus is to push the boundaries, stretch the mind, and encourage dialogue within this community. Let’s all think out loud.
“Dear Year 3000”
20th century literature has marveled in timeless stories that have been enjoyed by generations. But which of those hold appeal a thousand years from now?
“Dear Year 3000,
I am so sorry for Holden Caulfield, John Green, and Fifty Shades of Gr—“
(Note: I hark on these namesakes because of their mixed appeal.)
Hah. It would be funny wouldn’t it if someone picked up a post marked letter a thousand years from now and it addresses the state of literary experimentalism a millennium back.
That’s the question of the hour: which books have staying power to propel itself into the next millennium?
Giving credence to existing Classics like Pride and Prejudice, To Kill a Mockingbird, Dracula, and 1984, there are distinguishing qualities of twentieth century literature that hit the mark of being read by multiple generations. This is awesome and demonstrates the resilience of original stories to leave a lasting imprint of the then, now, and the future. A major concern of this Classics label, however, is the continuing redefinition of itself as generations challenge new paradigms.
This is what makes classifying any 21st century book as a Classic is a dubious affair.
There is no certainty that any one franchise will stand the test of time (including the household names authors make for themselves). We can say that this generation has benefitted from its Harry Potters and Game of Thrones to the penmanship of Murakami, King, Gaiman or even James (yes, that James). For better or worse, stories enrich and demonstrate perspective. But a decade or century down the road will birth new stories that explore alternative avenues of creativity, imagination, and dialogues suited for its particular bubble of time and interest.
This is where the socially flexible story typically wins.
Originality of ideas is well-taken (and often necessary) but when incapacitated by visibility, the story simply cannot thrive. While notoriety from scholastic marketing is a sound basis to build upon, it’s the traditional word-of-mouth strategy (and push-strategy to a lesser degree) which ultimately wins over the wallets (and minds) of many. Perhaps it’s off-putting to think that only the popular will rise—call it the mainstream if you will—but it is without doubt that this happens even now. The point isn’t always to make that sale. Nor does the book have to be necessarily read. It’s successful by remaining in the scene.
See, this discussion isn’t so much about me naming the future Classic than it is to outline the thought that if there’s a title you believe holds that timeless, well-rounded value, then you should continue screaming its name into the world. For as much value as you take away from a classic-to-be, the story equally deserves to be heard by others. It’s like a relationship where both parties build each other up—step by step—in hopes of achieving greater heights; greater visibility for one party and enrichment for the other. While it isn’t a duty to reciprocate any feelings gained from a story, your voice is a stepping stone for it to live another day.
Or you can just imagine the Earth imploding in on itself before Year 3k hits. Whichever helps you sleep better at night, I guess.
For funsies, I encourage you to reply to this prompt with:
“Dear Year 3000,”
Then talk about the books you hope to see still doing well (e.g. is there a theme you enjoyed or a character that resonated with you?) or titles that you hope aren’t present during that time (yes, this sounds bad but you’re entitled to that opinion if you disliked a title).
Think of it like a time-capsule of sorts, where the titles you put into the comment are those you think the future ought to read or skip.
Or you can just reply however you want. I’m basically interested in what you think holds a timeless value a thousand years from now. I’m already expecting for some Harry Potter answers though…LOL.
This post dials back the fun and takes a more serious undertone at the question, “what makes a Classic, classic?” It is the discussion topic in question over at the Blog Olympics.