New and old
James Marcus's Amazonia is meant, among other things, to evoke the extent of late-90s internet euphoria; but it also shows the euphoria's limits, which are less talked about.
This bit is about an appearance on CNN, just before the curve turns. Jeff = Amazon's Jeff Bezos, for whom Marcus was a justly glorified blurb-writer.
"My cue was approaching. I had rehearsed my lines and knew exactly what I was going to say to the boy-and-girl anchor team in Atlanta. Moments before I went live, however, I heard some excited crosstalk in my earpiece: Jeff had been anointed [Time magazine] Person of the Year! They would be making the announcement in just a few minutes! At once it dawned on me that this little segment, which would allow me to preach the gospel of books to my biggest audience ever, was simply an appetizer for the main event: a lengthy celebration of my employer. Well, he had earned it."
In a book on the high-season web, that is, a magazine and an appearance on cable TV generate some of the greatest excitement, and offer the biggest audience. I don't think he's trying to do hindsight, either.
[Amazonia, by James Marcus (New Press, 2004). Humanist version of the rich-and-then-not story. Style nods occasionally -- the subtitle is "Five years at the epicenter of the dot.com juggernaut", which was almost enough to make me put it down straight away -- but in general it's rather good.]