Sunday, June 6, 2010

Full of wise saws and modern instances;

Book number twelve from The List, The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen, is by far the newest book I've read so far.  It was originally published in 2001, beating out Beloved by fourteen years.  It is also one of the newest books on the list, one of only five books to be published this millennium.

Having been printed so recently, it features many words that would never appear in the majority of books on the list.  Cell phone, email, and Internet have already been used quite frequently.  This makes sense of course, as it would be nearly impossible to describe any situation in today's age, without using the the word 'cell phone.'  But even having been written in 2001, the book is still slightly dated in a way, a testament to how fast technology is progressing.

In one scene, one of the main characters, Chip, is walking up Fifth Avenue searching for a functioning payphone.  Although nearly everyone he knows has a cell phone, he hates them.  However, it later occurs to him that the reason he doesn't like cell phones is because he doesn't have one.  I guess that is sort of a modern day Catch-22.  Fast forward to 2010, and everybody has a cell phone...everybody.  Okay, everybody under the age of 75.

Another interesting word caught my attention in the first few chapters of this novel, as it was used in its classical connotation; a meaning from a bygone era, that today holds an entirely different meaning amongst pretty much everybody on earth.  Referring to a school yearbook, Chip "...embarked on projects like digitally scanning Melissa Paquette's face from a freshman facebook..."  When I first read this line, the first thing that struck me was that 'facebook' was written with a lower-case 'f.'  I then realized this book was written before the world's most popular social networking site had ever been thought up, and the author was simply referring to an old fashioned college yearbook.  Nothing but paper and pictures.  How 20th century.

It is amazing how quickly a word like facebook, that has had one meaning for probably over 100 years, can suddenly become Facebook; an internationally known corporate name valued at over $15 billion.

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