Essay: We Need More Writers We'd Miss

Books everywhere are falling apart. Acids in the ink and the pulp devour the pages. The paper crumbles, powdered words in a few generations will blow away like dandelion fluff. Some computer-literate great-grandchild will hold the empty, mortal binding in his hands as if it were Yorick's skull.

And yet sometimes we harbor a subversive suspicion that it doesn't really matter. Once, we think, we were a people of the book. Now we begin to seem, perhaps irreparably, a people of the tube. The race of literary giants, the tyrant genius founders (Homer, Tolstoi, Flaubert,...