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Mark Dery's I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts: Is It a Book in the Form of the Internet?

By Sarah LaBrie
LA Weekly

Dery_Bad coverIf you're familiar with the writing of cultural theorist and freelance critic Mark Dery, you already know he writes in loop-de-loops and mazes, often embedding the meanings of his sentences in elaborate spirals of prose. His new essay collection, I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts, follows that pattern, bringing together subjects such as Holocaust profiteering, Lady Gaga, Madonna's big toe, Facebook and Mark Twain into a complicated but deliberately choreographed waltz.

 

As a writer whose following, of late, has mostly developed online, do you find anything ironic about the fact that you're putting out a book?

I don't think you have to be a Kazynscite luddite or a Shoot-Your-Television-Rear-Guard-Activist kind of fighting the digitalization of everything to both savor the web's virtues, and also, at the same time, enjoy this sort of time capsule from the past. The book is a commodity fetish, yes, but it's also still one of the best most searchable, portable technologies. Besides, more and more, I think people are getting phobic about curling up with their screens. People are worried about the neurocognitive effects of it, and some of the other kind of concerns that have been raised about screenal reading, especially right before bed. I think the book really has its virtues. Too, this book is designed to be read as a pillowbook, you know, curled up with a tall glass of absinthe for a nightcap.

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