Printed matter matters – For Friday Fictioneers

They had told me that the truth was relative. That information had to be standardized, distributed, updated and controlled.

They told me that staticness of printed words was causing all disasters. That we cannot trust the books.

They told me, that only from the ashes of the old, the brightness would arise. A new world where misery was forbidden, a world described, controlled and operated remotely through computer connectivity to our individual receptacles.

Yet hidden deep inside my pockets I feel the printed matter that I’ve kept:

Sears catalog from nineteen ninety seven, showing that once we had a choice.

This week I saw burning books, somehow I’m starting to be very inspired to write about a dystopian world we might enter, and yes this one was inspired by Ray Bradbury (how cold i deny that ?).

Friday Fictioneers is a blogging community who write 100 word stories every week under the excellent leadership of Rochelle, whose birthday we celebrate tomorrow.

September 3, 2014

54 responses to “Printed matter matters – For Friday Fictioneers

  1. Sears catalog was not the printed matter I was expecting the MC to have in his/her pocket, so it took me by surprise – but what a great symbol of a world with choice, and the need to appreciate it.

  2. So chillingly well done Bjorn, and yes, we seem to be on a similar wavelength this week. I could never bring myself to burn a book, there is something so satisfying and permanent about a book.. I give them away,sometimes, but my bookselves groan under the weight of my ‘library’

  3. I didn’t see Bradbury in it at all, just your voice (and I am a HUGE Bradbury fan). There’s a poetic quality that he couldn’t have expressed. Great story, Bjorn, great work!!! I love it!

    Oh, before I forget (totally unrelated, but I thought you might be interested), IKEA is going to open in the neighboring town this week. 😉

  4. I liked the way you built this story, the cold facts, the progression of tension and then the Sears catalogue. Probably not the printed item I expected or would have chosen. A great short story!

  5. How true those words are, and how close to a religious book that catalogue is – when one reads it the way I do its a double indictment of our society, both the book burning, and what our values really are – for that double well done!

  6. Your story reminded me a bit of Liesel in “The Book Thief” when she stole a book from the Nazi’s fire. She knew the value of words. Great story.

  7. I really like that the book kept is in reality an irrelevance…i.e. the point is it’s any book, a memory of another time in printed word. What it’s a memory of doesn’t matter. Good one.

  8. Interesting write, you know most catalogs are extinct. Pretty amazing you have a copy. Or is that fiction? Ha Ha!

  9. I remember those catalogs and when there were lots of Sears stores. It was a long time prior to today’s virtual world. Excellently done metaphor, Bjorn, and yes, many of our choices are now gone or only illusory. We have to fight for each of them.


  10. Once again I’m late and can’t say anything that hasn’t already been said – so I’ll just applaud. The Sears catalog was a wonderful choice for this story! A jolt – but a great story.

  11. Dear Björn,

    Your last line clinched the deal. “once we had a choice.” I loved it that the book was a Sears catalog. Pardon the pun when I say that it speaks volumes. Chillingly well done.



  12. Given the printed materials he kept, we may all be wearing gauchos and bell bottoms again! Humor aside, the dystopian imagery was spot on, Björn, and distinctly unsettling. That he kept a catalogue, with it’s endless choices and material focus, is that much more powerful. Wonderful!

  13. Sears Catalog page – what a great symbol of a previous life. (I haven’t seen a catalog like that for so long, I don’t even know if they print them anymore!)

  14. I love the last line about the Sears catalogue and having a choice. Your story reminds me of a movie I saw about our future world where books are illegal. It’s a chilling movie and world.


  15. Dear Bjorn, Yes, this could happen if we give our free will up and let machines take over. Scary thought. You did a really good job with this subject Bjorn! Have a good week! Nan 🙂

  16. A chilling possible future. I see the shades of a more futuristic “Fahrenheit 451” here for sure.
    I can imagine people wandering round getting constant “in-head approved updates” while the rebel faction gather in darkened rooms with their books. Great stuff!

  17. Great job! ! I read this as the end of hard-copy books and the take over of the Internet… one day you won’t have a choice with catalogs either, and that will be a great shame.

  18. Too bad it wasn’t from the 1970s. Then you could have had your choice of his and hers, plaid, matching rayon outfits. Boy, those were the days. Sadly, printed matter does seem to be falling away.

  19. Very well written Bjorn. Looking into the past and then future, standing in present wondering about how the machines are taking over! 🙂

  20. I wonder if there are any of the Sears houses still around? Scary to imagine a no book world, but a possible reality the way things are headed these days.

  21. I love this, Bjorn. Too bad it’s just a Sears Catalogue he’s left with, but like you said, it’s about choice. This is eerie because I could see this happening, which is why I still prefer the printed word in my hands. Nothing beats the real thing!

  22. I thought of Montag as I read and then I read your comments. Unfortunately the catalogs are going to end soon, all bargains will be delivered via your Facebook feed.

  23. The sadness I feel, when reading this great piece, is that it is NOT a dystopian future you’re describing, but the world that the children I teach are entering into and, sadly, terrifyingly, already exists. Orwell, Bradbury… it is now.

  24. And yet the printing process itself has an intrinsic elitism that bound and excluded many people through history. I suspect the wily electron will prove far more inclusive and diverse in the long run.

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