Saturday, September 29, 2012

Words In Different Delivery Systems

I am reading with my ears the book you see above. It is absolutely killing me. It's lovely and weird and the subject matter is hard- a convicted sex offender- and homelessness too.
The narrator is fantastic. Scott Shepherd. I just looked him up and he is famous for his memory. He can recite from his very own mind The Great Gatsby. When you listen to audio books, you come to find different readers who actually and really create with their voices the perfect presentation of the world of the book.
At least for me. And some narrators are so bad that it destroys the experience for me. But that's not what I'm talking about here. I'm talking about the combination of a very fine piece of literature (to my mind, at least) with an incredibly talented reader.
For some reason, I'd never read a Russell Banks novel. Why? I do not know. I will read more. Lately it has become very obvious to me that some authors immediately let me know from the very beginning pages that I am in good hands. I do not need to worry or fret. They will deliver the story unto me and I can trust them. This is not always the case. Some authors make me fretful. They make me uncomfortable and not in a good way like having to think too much. No, it's more that I don't trust them to take me where they were aiming to go.
That is not the case with Russell Banks and Lost Memory Of Skin. 

I am in good hands. Skillful hands. Hands that have fashioned a story and a world and a place that I have entered and will not leave gladly.

I am also reading (with my eyes) another good book by another skillful author. Michael Chabon's Telegraph Avenue.

Again, I am in good hands. I am actually reading it on my Kindle. I downloaded it (uploaded it?) before we went to Dog Island and it's the first book I've read on the Kindle since I went to Mexico back in December. I do not feel comfortable reading on the Kindle. It's odd that I am completely thrilled to listen to a book but reading one on a device is uncomfortable. Maybe because listening is not the same at all as reading with eyes while the Kindle tries, sort of, to duplicate the book experience but to my mind, it does not.
Oh sure. I love the convenience. I can tote that little thing around and have it wherever I go, even if that is merely from room to room.
But it is not a book.
I try to convince myself that it is. That it is, ultimately, about words on a page. That whether paper or screen, it really makes no difference. But it does, you know. It does.
I think that probably most of us here have an almost totemic relationship with paper and ink and that is hard, if not impossible, to replace with pixels or whateverthefuck they use to make that illusion of ink upon paper on the device.
The very word conveys such a different meaning than book. 
And I am trying very hard to get over this prejudice because that's what it is- a prejudice. And I know it. But somehow it just doesn't make me as happy to think that I have a book stored on a device which yes, I'll be able to go back to whenever I want (as long as the device still works and by god, no device ever created, at least these days, is going to last as long as a book can potentially survive, which is centuries) but it does not esthetically please me the way even a paper-backed book on the shelf would.
Even though I get most of my real books from the library these days. Even though, the older I get, the less stuff and fewer objects I want in my life.
On paper (haha!) the Kindle is perfect.
But it's not ON paper, which is the problem.
And as I sit here typing this, I realize that I have completely adapted and adopted the computer for writing but I am not yet there for reading.
I think it must be a brain/neural pathways thing. Maybe. I don't know. It has something to do with the tactile pleasure of paper too and I am sure of that.

Anyway, I recommend both of these books even though I have not finished either one of them. I can safely state that you will be in good hands if you decide to enter those author-created worlds.

It is Saturday morning. I slept for approximately one thousand hours last night although I did get up and read for about an hour in the middle of all that sleeping. Can y'all be a witness for me? That when the day comes when I can no longer read, either with my ears or with my eyes, that I be taken to a state or country where euthanasia is legal and be allowed to go on? Lily and Jason were having a Whose Mom Is Crazier discussion one day and Lily won because when she was a child (and I did this with all of my children), I would have her watch the red lights for me to tell me when they changed to green so that I could read at the stoplights. So really, even if reading on the Kindle isn't the same as reading on the page, it is still reading and by god, I'm going to enjoy it to the best of my abilities. And now I'm going to go do Saturday chores and maybe work in the garden and I am going to wear a garment with big pockets so that I can put my Discman in one of them so that I can listen while I do laundry, wash dishes, sweep, pull weeds, whatever. I need to finish Lost Memory Of Skin because someone has asked for it at the library and they are waiting for me to return it and I understand that. They will just have to be patient, though, because I ain't rushing this. I am savoring it.

So that will be my day and then this evening I am going to the Opera House to wait tables and then see The Mousetrap which I hear is fabulous. It's the closing night and I'll be glad to see all those beautiful people whom I have worked with before, from kitchen to stage. And the stage is yet another way to enjoy a story. Words interpreted by my mind or an actor's voice and eventually, I'll feel compelled to do that again. To be part of a play and to lend my own voice and body to that process.


Can't get enough. They make my life so damn rich. Yours too, I'll bet. Aren't we lucky?

Yes. Yes we are.

Love...Ms. Moon


  1. I do love me some Russell Banks. Have you ever read The Sweet Hereafter? What a goddamned book. Seriously. The movie is most excellent as well. Also looking forward to the new Chabon book. I have to admit I love reading on the Kindle probably because I fucked up my hands in so many ways and heavy books are fine just not easy to transport. I am rereading Infinite Jest and I'm glad not to have to drag those eight billion pages around and more than half of what I read are poetry journals that aren't available on Kindle. I didn't think I'd love it so much but I've become a convert.

  2. I don't mind reading on the Kindle when it's "usual" reading -- memoirs, novels of new writers that I like or don't know but don't LOVE. Michael Chabon's new novel is one that I'll BUY, because I adore him. I think I told you already that I have read some Russell Banks -- Ms. Radish King's thoughts on his novels are my own.

    Have a wonderful night!

  3. I have a kindle but just don't feel the same way about it as I do about a real book. I will check on those that you mention here.

  4. I really needed to love a Kindle because of living on the other side of the world ... but I hated it so much, I flew to Istanbul to spend a month's salary in an English bookstore. Another time, I spent $500 to ship two bins of books to myself.

    This is a prejudice I can live with, though I'm stupid about it I know.

    You're making me realize how empty my life feels right now because I can't remember the last good book I read. I have so little time to read, and then it's all non-fiction. A good book soothes my soul ... I need to go find me one RIGHT THIS MINUTE. Thanks, Ms. Moon.

  5. Radish King- Exactly what Elizabeth said earlier in the week to me. So I know that this is true. About The Sweet Hereafter.
    I am going to learn to love the Kindle. I swear it.

    Elizabeth- Confirmed and confirmed.

    Syd- I think you would like them.

    NOLA- See- you could have been listening to books while doing all that work on your house. The library, baby. The library.

  6. Indeed we are lucky!

    I LOVED that Russell Banks book. I haven't yet read the Michael Chabon, though I've read others of his and enjoyed them a lot. The only one I absolutely couldn't get into was the one about the Orthodox Jewish police in Alaska. Very strange.

    I've been resisting the Kindle. I still like my books on paper.

  7. Radish King and Elizabeth, you are now my new best friends. Took the Russel Banks praise right out of my mouth. Ms. Moon, you will just swoon over The Sweet Hereafter (both book and film). Atom Egoyan is one of my very favorite filmmakers - and he treats Banks' work with such skill and restraint - it's genius.

  8. Chrissy! Atom Egoyan is one of my favorite film makers too!
    *Smiling to beat the band cuz you never know who you'll meet here in this blue world.*

  9. Oh, if I hate the Kindle, I LOATHE listening to books.

    I think that I may have some sort of auditory processing issue. I've realized this as clients tell me about accidents, I absolutely cannot picture what they are saying. I just always thought I was a stronger visual learner because I've never been able to process aurally, but now I realize it's actually a significant issue.

    Point is just: really hate listening to stories, etc. I'm just such a crotchety old lady who wants to curl up in my Queen Anne recliner with A BOOK.

  10. Steve- Funnily enough, I listened to that Chabon book on disc. It was strange and not easy to get through but overall, I did really like it.

    Chrissy- Obviously I have another book to read and a movie to watch.

    Madame King- This blue world...I love that.

    NOLA- I'm really sorry to hear that. Dang.


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