As movers and the moved both know, books are heavy freight, the weight of refrigerators and sofas broken up into cardboard boxes. They make us think twice about changing addresses. How many ageing couples have decided to stay put because they can't imagine what to do with the books? How many divorces have been forestalled by love of the same jointly acquired library? Books hold our beams down; they act as counterweight to our fickle and flighty natures. In comparison, any electronic text-delivery device lacks substance. Further, speaking of obsolescence, it would be outdated in a year and within 15 as inoperable as my formerly cutting-edge Wang word-processor from the mid-Eighties. Electronic equals (e-quals, if you will) immaterial, Ariel to our earthy Caliban. Without books, we might melt into the airwaves, and be just another set of blips.The essay appears in his collction Due Considerations: Essays and Criticism.
Talking about Updike, the BBC is repeating a Hard Talk interview with him today recorded in 2004. I caught half of it earlier (thanks to messages from friends) and hope to catch a repeat later.