BigThink.com has a video of John Irving talking about the future of the book and today's prospects for new authors. They gave it the title Advice to Aspiring Novelists: Don't Shoot Yourself, which is funny because he says no such thing:
He speculates that he might be tempted to shoot himself if he were in the shoes of an aspiring author, he talks about how much easier things were (and are) for him, and then he just kind of trails off. There's no "advice" whatsoever – if anything, it sounds like he's encouraging young writers to shoot themselves.

Irving's skill as a novelist aside, I think he's painting an overly bleak picture here. If I'm being honest, he comes across as a confused old man who hasn't bothered to follow the changes in an industry where his success is already assured – and that's fine, but he shouldn't make it his business to discourage the next generation. Notice that he doesn't even explain why he thinks things are tougher now: he just knows that they aren't exactly the same as they used to be, and that scares him.

Admittedly this clip is only part of a longer interview with Irving, and I haven't watched the whole thing. Perhaps I should, but based on this it doesn't seem like he has much to say.

Rest assured, young authors, there are plenty of opportunities out there. The publishing industry may be in turmoil, but people still love stories, and they always will.
 


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