Michael Nesmith




November 5, 1999: Michael Nesmith may be a new name on the bookshelf with his recent novel The Long Sandy Hair of Neftoon Zamora, but he should be nonetheless familiar to most folks via his portrayal of Mike, the wool-capped member of the Monkees in the cult Sixties TV show, as well as for his accomplishments as a film and video producer and solo recording artist. In fact, the medium of books is one of the few media that he until recently had not attempted to conquer. Still, he has approached prose with a fervor that belies any simple need to prove himself a jack-of-all-trades.

In fact, he has little use for simply writing a book, and professes to be far more interested in the future of reading and what it means in the technology-rich world of today and tomorrow. "I don't want to write the Great American Novel," he declares. "First of all, I have no idea what the Great American Novel is -- I'm not even sure I know what a novel is!" He has his ideas, however, to the extent that he believes it may be an animal of a time gone by. "There was a massive change some 50 years ago in the whole literary distribution system and in the way ideas got out to the public," he explains, "which we all know was television. That changed not only the distribution of the novel, but the novel itself." Nesmith is far from a doomsayer about the current state of reading and of the mind, however; he embraces technology and its effects on the human race. "Thanks to e-mail," he marvels, "people are writing letters who never even thought about writing letters, and if I had to guess, I'd bet the letters are not too different than the letter writing in England in the early nineteenth century."

Thus, though Neftoon Zamora, the tales of a man (Nez) searching for a legendary figure and the meaning of life in the American Southwest, has been made available in traditional book form, he admits to being far more interested in the version he has created for his Videoranch.com Web site (Unfortunately, Neftoon the online novel is currently down for retooling). Therein, he writes in the manner he believes may be the future of literature -- not to maintain a situation that makes a book impossible to put down, but to create a reality -- via HyperText linking of ancillary pages that allow the reader to see what the character sees, and share his experiences one-on-one. Nesmith says his next work will expand on the groundwork he has laid with Neftoon.

America Gene, he says, will detail his observation that "at a certain time, the America Gene wakes up in the life of all Americans, and starts to drive you to your own personal Las Vegas. And of course, by the time you're completely grown up, you're a moron." Despite the negative connotations implied in America Gene, Nesmith insists he's not catering to the new, shorter attention spans of Americans -- rather, he pooh-poohs the idea that they are shrinking. Citing what he calls "stitching," the act of putting together moments to create one's own reality, he asserts that today, mankind is "stringing together a more complex and vibrant bouquet of reality than people before us could, and I think technology is a child of that." In his late 50s, but with a verve and attitude that more reflects the twentysomething Monkee Mike, Nesmith is determined to not only watch that child mature, but to bring all that he can into its development.


Michael Nesmith will give a reading in the House Chamber on Saturday, November 6 at 12:45pm.


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