The Common Core asks students to read and analyze "works of quality and substance." That some texts have been deemed more worthy than others has led critics to question the criteria. Who is to say whether The Brothers Karamazov is a better read than Twilight? Would you rather be marooned on a desert island with The New Yorker or People? So yes, a whiff of moral superiority has crept into the air.
But another, perhaps more urgent, question bears consideration: What books are worth writing? The lure of Twitter, Facebook and e-mail, authors say, is testing their powers of concentration.
According to this New York Times essay, "in order to convert his laptop into a permanently Internet-free writing machine, Jonathan Franzen resorted to D.I.Y. measures, removing its wireless card and Super Glue-ing its Ethernet cable in place before cutting the cable’s head off."
What might such desperation say about the works my generation will leave, or not leave, to posterity? Writer Junot Díaz calculates that when all is said, done—and tweeted—he could be down "roughly a novel and a half."
To paraphrase Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca, we'll always have Status Updates.