The future of handwriting is anything but certain. Its history, however, shows how much it has affected culture and civilization for millennia.
In the digital age of instant communication, handwriting is less necessary than ever before, and indeed fewer and fewer schoolchildren are being taught how to write in cursive. Signatures--far from John Hancock's elegant model--have become scrawls. In her recent and widely discussed and debated essays, Anne Trubek argues that the decline and even elimination of handwriting from daily life does not signal a decline in civilization, but rather the next stage in the evolution of communication.
Now, in The History and Uncertain Future of Handwriting, Trubek uncovers the long and significant impact handwriting has had on culture and humanity--from the first recorded handwriting on the clay tablets of the Sumerians some four thousand years ago and the invention of the alphabet as we know it, to the rising value of handwritten manuscripts today. Each innovation over the millennia has threatened existing standards and entrenched interests: Indeed, in ancient Athens, Socrates and his followers decried the very use of handwriting, claiming memory would be destroyed; while Gutenberg's printing press ultimately overturned the livelihood of the monks who created books in the pre-printing era. And yet new methods of writing and communication have always appeared. Establishing a novel link between our deep past and emerging future, Anne Trubek offers a colorful lens through which to view our shared social experience.
In A Skeptic's Guide to Writers' Houses Anne Trubek takes a vexed, often funny, and always thoughtful tour of a goodly number of house museums across the nation. In Key West she visits the shamelessly ersatz shrine to a hard-living Ernest Hemingway, while meditating on his lost Cuban farm and the sterile Idaho house in which he committed suicide. In Hannibal, Missouri, she walks the fuzzy line between fact and fiction, as she visits the home of the young Samuel Clemens—and the purported haunts of Tom Sawyer, Becky Thatcher, and Injun' Joe. She hits literary pay-dirt in Concord, Massachusetts, the nineteenth-century mecca that gave home to Hawthorne, Emerson, and Thoreau—and yet could not accommodate a surprisingly complex Louisa May Alcott. She takes us along the trail of residences that Edgar Allan Poe left behind in the wake of his many failures and to the burned-out shell of a California house with which Jack London staked his claim on posterity. In Dayton, Ohio, a charismatic guide brings Paul Laurence Dunbar to compelling life for those few visitors willing to listen; in Cleveland, Trubek finds a moving remembrance of Charles Chesnutt in a house that no longer stands.
Why is it that we visit writers' houses? Although admittedly skeptical about the stories these buildings tell us about their former inhabitants, Anne Trubek carries us along as she falls at least a little bit in love with each stop on her itinerary and finds in each some truth about literature, history, and contemporary America.
The essays in Voices from the Rust Belt "address segregated schools, rural childhoods, suburban ennui, lead poisoning, opiate addiction, and job loss. They reflect upon happy childhoods, successful community ventures, warm refuges for outsiders, and hidden oases of natural beauty. But mainly they are stories drawn from uniquely personal experiences: A girl has her bike stolen. A social worker in Pittsburgh makes calls on clients. A journalist from Buffalo moves away, and misses home.... A father gives his daughter a bath in the lead-contaminated water of Flint, Michigan" (from the introduction).
Where is America's Rust Belt? It's not quite a geographic region but a linguistic one, first introduced as a concept in 1984 by Walter Mondale. In the modern vernacular, it's closely associated with the "Post-Industrial Midwest," and includes Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, as well as parts of Illinois, Wisconsin, and New York. The region reflects the country's manufacturing center, which, over the past forty years, has been in decline. In the 2016 election, the Rust Belt's economic woes became a political talking point, and helped pave the way for a Donald Trump victory.
But the region is neither monolithic nor easily understood. The truth is much more nuanced. Voices from the Rust Belt pulls together a distinct variety of voices from people who call the region home. Voices that emerge from familiar Rust Belt cities—Detroit, Cleveland, Flint, and Buffalo, among other places—and observe, with grace and sensitivity, the changing economic and cultural realities for generations of Americans.
專文導讀 陳建守「說書 Speaking of Books」創辦人
——《華爾街日報》（Wall Street Journal）
——《華爾街日報》（Wall Street Journal）
——Inside Higher Ed
——《洛杉磯時報》（Los Angeles Times）
——瑪莉．諾里斯（Mary Norris），《逗點女王的告白》（Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen）作者
——克萊夫．湯普森（Clive Thompson），《雲端大腦時代》（Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Mind for Better）作者
出版社 商周出版 (城邦)