Idea Share


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Idea Share

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This page will regularly offer ideas for books or stories or works in other media, from those who can’t act upon them. In all cases they are offered in the hopes that these worthy projects will find their way to someone with the time and wherewithal to pursue them.


No one seems to remember or care much about the Northeast Boundary Dispute: the United States almost went to war with Canada back in the nineteenth century over the potato fields of northern Maine. A filmic representation of this lost nugget of North American history could be good.

As Judith Butler notes elsewhere in this issue, the New York Times obituaries of the victims of the 9/11 attacks were deeply affecting; they were so straightforward, kind, and put human faces on the incomprehensible number of dead. Until now, we haven’t seen the Americans killed in action in Iraq memorialized this way. If the Times doesn’t do it, someone should. And, as Butler points out, in a just world, the Iraqi dead—military and civilian— would be given the same treatment, in the American press. If we hold Bush and Blair to their word, that we are “friends of the Iraqi people,” then it makes all the more sense that we honor their victims in a way similar to our own countrymen.

There should be more novels about sentient animals.

There is a new magazine called The Week, which is sort of a mainstream Utne Reader, in that it distills articles from the nation’s magazines and newspapers and puts them all in one place. There should be an international version of this idea, which would reprint the best of periodicals around the world, every week. There are some extraordinary magazines in just about every part of the world, and it’s curious that while we’re aware on some level of international music, film and art, we’re not exposed to much in the way of the international media. Similarly, an idea for magazine lovers, in the vein of the Wine-of-the-Month sort of clubs. Someone could offer a service whereby once a month, you’d get a bundle of magazines from all over the world—Lithuania’s weekly sports magazine, Uganda’s agriculture monthly, etc. It would surely give a reader immediate immersion into these cultures.

There are baby name books, and band name books, but no books a writer can go to when they’re struggling to name their novel. Someone should compile a list of available titles that don’t yet have a book attached to them. Here are some:

The Somnambulist’s Reprieve
A Fondness for Beheadings
The Basket of Smells
Here There Be Dragons
Loafing Towards the Leaf
Home Boy, Home Skillet
The Palace of the End
Through All of the Worst Places
A Handshake Brings Doom and Light

Someone should produce a short-film quarterly, published on a DVD. It would include short films by independent filmmakers. Each issue could have a central theme or genre—documentary, gender issues, cold medicine abuse, etc. A subscription would be cheap and the packaging would be tasteful and recyclable.

There should be a device hooked up to your car’s stereo system that displays whatever song and artist you’re listening to—whether it be tape, CD, MP3, even radio (it would look it up using the Internet)—in a scrolling LED ticker tape–type display on your bumper or running boards.

The following readers contributed to this month’s assortment: John Veldhoen and Christian Donath.

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Underappreciated in 2002*