Just Above Sunset
December 25, 2005 - On The Road To Illiteracy In The USA?

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Book Wrangler

December 26, 2005

By Bob Patterson  


As folks sit home for on the Christmas weekend watching the cavalcade of promobabble and endless listings of "must see" movies, some viewers might yearn for a change of pace.  When was the last time you saw an author on one of the major network talk shows hawking a new book?


Odds are the answer might be if and when Tom Brokaw got a chance to plug one of his books on the Tonight Show, which just coincidentally happens to be the same network that employed that news anchor.


That's too bad because authors can be memorable talk show guests.


For instance, this columnist still thinks of an appearance made by writer Ernest K. Gann, where he described some of the rigorous trials airline pilots encounter in their training.  Gann wrote books that had airplanes as integral factors in the dramas that unfolded in his books.  Gann had done his homework in background research and so his books would ring true with the audience.


This memorable bit of TV conversation happened many years ago, but it stands out from all the "my latest film" huckstering that are common on late night TV these days.


A friend who deals in antique books was once asked to authenticate a copy of Jack Kerouac's On the Road, which was inscribed by the author to Marilyn Monroe.  There was no indication that they even knew each other.  The research revealed that Kerouac and Monroe were both on the Tonight Show on the same episode, and so the book immediately took a big jump in value.  (It seems like this columnist can remember that episode - or at least convince himself that he "sort of" can remember it.)


[When you stop to think about it, even professional movie reviewers don't have the time to see all the movies that are touted as "must see" cinema by the various studios.  Do they?]


A recent TV news feature story indicates that in the USA reading proficiency is slipping and even college graduates have some trouble with a printed page.  Maybe putting some interesting writers on the late night talk circuit (again) would be a way of turning the tide?  Will this country end up with pictures of the candidates on the ballots?  Who needs to be well informed when you can see a picture of what they look like?


Who is the modern equivalent of Jack Kerouac?


Until the TV talk shows make a concerted effort to answer that question, it will be up to online columnists to offer information about some possible candidates for the next literary sensation in the USA.  We'll give it a try next year.


Did you get some good "loot" from Santa?  Get any books? 


Neither Johnny Carson nor Jack Paar are quoted in Bartlett's but we did find this Johnny Carson quote (in Barbara Rowes' The Book of Quotes) - "I now believe in reincarnation.  Tonight's monologue is going to come back as a dog."


Now, if the disk jockey will play Mike Douglas' (the talk show host not Michael Douglas the actor), The Men In My Little Girl's Life, we'll get on with our getaway.  Have a week that will be the basis for a "must see" movie based on a true story - and don't drink too much eggnog.




Copyright 2005 - Robert Patterson

Email the author at worldslaziestjournalist@yahoo.com





Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
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