Thursday, October 29, 2009

It's a Book. It's a Museum. It's...Both!

Generally, literature is a topic I don't delve into on this blog. It's not that I don't read. There's always a book on my nightstand and my tastes range from David Sedaris essays to Hemingway novels to Sandra Cisneros and a whole bunch of other stuff. I like to mix the high and lowbrow, but I'm not sure how I feel about the literary intersection I heard about yesterday.

Seems that Nobel Laureate Orhan Pamuk decided to promote his latest novel, The Museum of Innocence by opening an exhibit in a museum in his native Istanbul. According to an interview with Pamuk on NPR, visitors to the unnamed museum can experience a tableaux fashioned after the character's world starting in July 2010.

In a form of cross-promotional insanity bordering on the Jon Bon Jovi-esque, "Pamuk began collecting the objects that his protagonist Kemal would save before he even began writing the novel. And, in an unusual instance of literature melding into real life, he plans to display those objects in an actual 'Museum of Innocence.'

The idea for the museum came, in part, from the author's visits to small collections around the world. Pamuk says he's always been attracted to small museums and the 'melancholy' that seems to permeate them."

If I were Seth Meyer, I'd probably just give an eye roll and an exasperated, "really?!" But since I strive for a little something extra, I figured I'd tease this out a bit.

What does it say about our culture that a Nobel Prize winner has both the audacity and the sick genius to collect hypothetical objects his imaginary characters might have possessed had they actually existed? Is this what authors have to submit to in our post-Potter world?

One can only hope that this bizarre clash of literature, spectacle and obsession is an outlier and that we're not going to witness a flurry of Dominican chicken restaurants inspired by Junot Diaz's character Oscar Wao, or actual comic books related to the heroes of Michael Chabon's the Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Klay. Of course, if someone wants to organize a cross-country trek based on Jack Kerouac's On the Road - I'm all in.

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