Tuesday, October 28, 2008

From Mad Libs to Wiki to the Great American Novel


Because my parents currently live in Detroit, I have long been interested in the tragic implosion of the gritty, industrial city. Thus, Dean Bakopoulos' novel, Please Don't Come Back to the Moon, about the "lost fathers" of Detroit, is waiting patiently on my bookshelf to be eagerly consumed.

Mr. Bakopoulos, perhaps remembering what a drag it all was to craft an entire novel from scratch, or maybe as a result of a stroke of genius, is outsourcing construction of his upcoming novel, My American Unhappiness, to melancholy contributors. The book will feature characters who experience the stated angsts and frustrations of ordinary blog commenters.

Because I've spent the last few weeks beginning to wade through the cannon of behavioral economics and positive psychology (Ariely, Sunstein, Thaler, Schwartz, Gilbert, Csíkszentmihályi, Seligman, Haidt, Lyubomirsky- Kahneman and Tversky don't yet come packaged as pop psych books for the public, but I'll eventually get to them, too), I've been alternatively amazed and frustrated by some of their findings and policy prescriptions. Thus, my source of "American Unhappiness," can be summarized as:

The paralysis caused by too many choices. And behavioral economists who'd like to legally restrict my number of choices.


HT to Megan McArdle by way of Alex Massie.

UPDATE Nov. 1: The following is a clarification from the author [I suspected he wouldn't just cut and paste people's contributions; he's a good writer]:

A friend forwarded me some blogs that mention this group and my next novel and think that I'm asking you to write my entire novel. This is not the case. I'm just saying, like, yeah I wrote 350 pages, and you get to write about five. This is for a small section of the novel in which the main character, Zeke Pappas, wakes up to find a deluge of e-mails from people answering the question on his website: why are you so unhappy?

Just clarifying!

1 comment:

Zeke said...

A friend forwarded me some blogs that mention this group and my next novel and think that I'm asking you to write my entire novel. This is not the case. I'm just saying, like, yeah I wrote 350 pages, and you get to write about five. This is for a small section of the novel in which the main character, Zeke Pappas, wakes up to find a deluge of e-mails from people answering the question on his website: why are you so unhappy?

Just clarifying!