In his preface to The Stand Stephen King writes an alternate version of Hansel and Gretel (via Slashdot):“Hansel and Gretel were two children with a nice father and a nice mother. The nice mother died, and the father married a bitch. The bitch wanted the kids out of the way so she’d have more money to spend on herself. She bullied her spineless, soft-headed hubby into taking Handsel and Gretel into the woods and killing them. The kids’ father relented at the last moment, allowing them to live so they could starve to death in the woods instead of dying quickly and mercifully at the blade of his knife. While they were wandering around, they found a house made out of candy. It was owned by a witch who was into cannibalism. She locked them up and told them when they were good and fat, she was going to eat them. But the kids got the best of her. Hansel shoved her into her own oven. They found the witch’s treasure, and they must have found a map, too, because they eventually arrived home again. When they got there, Dad gave the bitch the boot and they lived happily ever after. The End.”Clearly this version is a brutal and unintesting read, such that were this the original version, why would it ever reach the mass consciousness that the classic Grimm’s Fairy Tale has. I read and occasionally hear people of various ages describe the virtues of speed reading, the horrors of exposition, and the general unworthiness of a good long book.There will always be kids (and adults, sadly) who want nothing more than to be spoon fed their thoughts. I hope though, that the rise of technology and out increasing ability to ‘syndicate’ our lives and cull out all ideas not directly related to our mode of thinking will not destroy the greater publics’ interest in good books. It already has in some ways, I suppose. There are a limited number of hours in the day and we have a great deal of media to contend with. But let’s not complain because the book that someone recommends us isn’t abridged. If you wish to share in the ideas that a friend or colleague experienced in a book, then read it. Otherwise, it’s just not the same.