(Cue the bragging montage.)
I like books, and I love learning new things, and I love to be entertained by a good story.
To me, one of the coolest things about books is that after the book is read, it gets placed on a bookshelf almost like a trophy. I don’t like to re-read books, but looking at the spines (arranged in alphabetical order by author because I’m OCD like that) will almost certainly bring back a good feeling or memory. Again, like a trophy.
In other words, I have resisted the e-reader phenomenon. I like holding the words in my hands. I like the dog-eared pages showing previous stopping points. I even like that I can thumb through a book that I read two years ago and notice that I must have been eating Nacho Cheese flavored Doritos during chapter 7. There are even a few books in which I have marked passages to be remembered. (“Nostalgia is basically remembering what didn’t suck.” Paraphrased, but that was from a Nelson DeMille novel.)
But the thing I like the most about the physical nature of a book is the trophy aspect, even if it is only for my own edification.
And that is what made today so interesting, perplexing, and even concerning to me.
A friend of mine published his first novel. I might be using the word “friend” loosely because we’ve never actually met in person, but I was “introduced” to him by a friend in California who I have met in person. We’ve been online friends for, man – 10 years? Longer? I know it predates Facebook, and probably MySpace, too.
He used to read my blog when I was churning out about 5 entries per week and I would read his, too – and it was much more popular than mine. I even got to do a guest entry for his blog while he was on holiday once. (That is a phrase Americans should embrace. “Holiday” sounds so much cooler than “vacation”. Although we’d probably bastardize the phrase like we have our current one with phrases such as “Holly” or, worse, “StayHol”.) That was a long way of saying that he lives in the UK.
So today I downloaded Kindle and purchased my first e-book from Amazon. I wasn’t sure how I would take to reading a book on my laptop, but rationalized it by thinking that I read tons of useless shit on the internet every week. The scrolling is a bitch when reading online, but I figured I could fight through it for a friend. Especially a friend whose work I enjoy reading.
Well, imagine my surprise when I realized I did not have to scroll at all. There is a little arrow on the right hand side of the screen to turn the page. And one on the left if I want to go back a page. I realize that experienced e-readers are laughing at me now, but this is not like Katie Couric and Bryant Gumbel asking “what is internet?”, you know?
And here is the bad thing: I think I could get used to this. I don’t want to, but I could. Very easily. There are only two downsides to reading this way. First, Google’s Vint Cerf, one of the fathers of the modern internet, has warned of software upgrades in the future rendering current document or photo formats obsolete and making them inaccessible. Second, to display my trophies I would have to synch my laptop to a large screen TV when guests come over so they could see how well read I am. The TV would just show my Kindle library and I’d have to scroll to show the full scope of works that I’ve consumed.
That’s a lot of work to keep my ego happy, and honestly, my ego wanes each and every year anyway.
So now it’s time to plug the book. It is called “Water Runs Slow Through Flat Land” and was written by Cliff Jones. The amazon blurb includes this synopsis: “In his debut novel Water Runs Slow Through Flat Land, Cliff Jones tells a fast-paced story about love, terrorism, friendship, humanity and deadlines in a comedy drama set in the digital media industry during the war on terror. ”
My review of the book includes “There is a lot to like in this fast-paced read: the commentary on how media has changed in this digital “now!” age, the complexity of life in the embattled areas of the Middle East, and even the dysfunction of an inter-office staff that attempts to slog through the daily grind together, yet separate.” And it also includes “And the dialogue really is funny, but it also seems genuine. That is a difficult feat to pull off.”
(Until I put those last two paragraphs here, I didn’t realize that both used the phrase “fast-paced”. Eff me.)
The book is available at Amazon, so please give it a whirl. That is, if you’re into that whole e-reader thing.
Oh – one last silly note. The song title used for this blog entry was obviously selected because of the reference to books, but also not-so-obviously because Elvis Costello is mentioned in Cliff’s story. (Along with several other pop culture references: Tom Petty, Willie Nelson, Kindergarten Cop, Vin Diesel, The Dead Zone, and a troika of British record producers.)