In the early part of the Twentieth Century, fiction had reached new levels of importance. From social satire to the muckraking novels of Norris and Sinclair, fiction writers provided a more realistic view of the world than any medium had before. Novels were the primary form of leisure entertainment in those pre-movie years. Writers took that responsibility seriously. Frank Norris even wrote an important work about the responsibilities of the novelist. The well decorated home displayed fine books with pride.
Now, a century later, bookcases have been replaced by entertainment centers. Even those of us who love books are keeping dozens of books in our electronic devices because they are more modern and more portable, and the limited shelf space around our televisions is full. Fiction is harder than ever to sell, and most of the top titles are aimed at escapism rather than enlightenment. Escapism is an important role, but even there books take a backseat to Netflix and the XBox and Angry Birds. Kids, and especially boys, don't read (or write, or even spell), like they used to.
People are predicting the end of books, and of reading as we know it.
I've painted a bleaker picture than what I think the current reality is, but there's no denying that the novelist's place in the world is not what it once was.
So what do you think? Is fiction writing still important? Why?