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Scott Lax Blog

Don't Be Discouraged by the Greats

I'm reading Tobias Wolff's, OUR STORY BEGINS, his most recent collection of short fiction. He's a master at the short story genre. He's so good that there are moments when I wonder if he's writing from another dimension.

I've learned not to get discouraged when reading the greats like Wolff. I learned this many years ago, when, as a young drummer, I went to hear perhaps the greatest drummer of all time, Buddy Rich -- not once, but three or four times. Buddy was a freak of nature. He was to drums what LeBron James is to basketball -- maybe even more extreme.

I was a professional drummer. I had to come to terms with the idea that I wasn't, and would never be, Buddy Rich. And I'll never be Tobias Wolff, or write short fiction like him.  Read More 

Going Long

I had a nice talk with a newspaper editor today. Times are very tough for newspapers, as everybody knows. I think this doesn't bode well: even though so much content is free, I am suspect that many people are reading in-depth articles on their computers. I've found myself carting around The New Yorker and reading longer, in depth articles. It keeps my brain operating half-way decently.

You simply can't get that kind of information from a two hundred word Web piece. Most of them are toss-offs, full of easily digestible information.

The Internet is invaluable; I know that. But we are losing the in-depth, long form; we are losing serious investigative journalism. Will young people want to read serious journalism, having been raised on Twitter and snark? Maybe. In many ways, kids seem smarter than ever. Still, there needs to be some kind of happy medium.

I only hope that enough newspapers, magazines and book publishing companies survive to keep excellence alive. Otherwise, society will get stupider. (Can I say that more diplomatically? Maybe. But why?)

If you haven't read a long form lately, try it. A long piece in The New Yorker, or any magazine of that sort, will do. Or a book. It's amazing how much intellectual yardage you can gain by stopping the dink and dunk passes and going long.  Read More