On Saturday, the UPS guy showed up with a printed, bound, and jacketed copy of my book The Shallows. It’s exciting and gratifying, of course, to receive a finished copy of a book that’s been in the works for a couple of years, but it’s also scarifying. No more edits, corrections, updates, rethinks: the ink is indelible. The phrase shouldn’t be “hot of the press” – hot things tend to be malleable – but rather “cold off the press.”
Oh, well. It’s now the reader’s book, not the writer’s.
One thing I have no mixed feelings about is the set of endorsements that the publisher has gathered from early readers of the book. They’re all from writers and thinkers I admire, and – shucks – here they are:
“Neither a tub-thumpingly alarmist jeremiad nor a breathlessly Panglossian ode to the digital self, Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows is a deeply thoughtful, surprising exploration of our ‘frenzied’ psyches in the age of the Internet. Whether you do it in pixels or pages, read this book.” —Tom Vanderbilt, author of Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us)
“Nicholas Carr carefully examines the most important topic in contemporary culture — the mental and social transformation created by our new electronic environment. Without ever losing sight of the larger questions at stake, he calmly demolishes the clichés that have dominated discussions about the Internet. Witty, ambitious, and immensely readable, The Shallows actually manages to describe the weird, new, artificial world in which we now live.” —Dana Gioia, poet and former Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts
“Nicholas Carr has written an important and timely book. See if you can stay off the web long enough to read it!” —Elizabeth Kolbert, author of Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change
“The core of education is this: developing the capacity to concentrate. The fruits of this capacity we call civilization. But all that is finished, perhaps. Welcome to the shallows, where the un-educating of homo sapiens begins. Nicholas Carr does a wonderful job synthesizing the recent cognitive research. In doing so, he gently refutes the ideologists of progress, and shows what is really at stake in the daily habits of our wired lives: the re-constitution of our minds. What emerges for the reader, inexorably, is the suspicion that we have well and truly screwed ourselves.” —Matthew B. Crawford, author of Shop Class As Soulcraft
“Ultimately, The Shallows is a book about the preservation of the human capacity for contemplation and wisdom, in an epoch where both appear increasingly threatened. Nick Carr provides a thought-provoking and intellectually courageous account of how the medium of the Internet is changing the way we think now and how future generations will or will not think. Few works could be more important.” —Maryanne Wolf, director of the Tufts University Center for Reading and Language Research and author of Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain
The book comes out June 7.