Friday, January 24, 2014

Too Many Balls in the Air, Not Enough Hands

Random thoughts on a day too busy to write a real post.

The Beloved Spouse has a friend who purchased a copy of Grind Joint weeks ago. She asked yesterday if he’d had a chance to read it. He said just two or three pages, he’s been busy, but he likes it so far. I told her to say I’m curious to see how he liked the orgy scene, to let me know. I expect a full report by morning.

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The nice thing about someone of my size is, even if things at work fall apart completely, I can always find a job as a bouncer at Leisure World.

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I know as much about marketing as Ted Cruz knows about government.

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Sometimes I read the news and consider becoming religious enough to believe in a hell some people can burn in.

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Whoever thought it was a good idea to cast Scarlett Johansen in a movie and use only her voice needs a serious ass kicking.

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E-readers are great. They allow access to books that might otherwise have gone out of print, provide an affordable price for experimenting with new authors, and, not least in my case, avert a host of space problems. A while back over twenty vintage Ed McBain titles went on sale for $1.99 each; they were on my Kindle ten minutes after I found out. (Including one I already owned a hard copy of. Damn.)

E-readers weaknesses, too. Some books don’t read as well on them. Reference books, for instance, as it’s harder to flip between non-consecutive pages. Tables, especially large ones, don’t lay out as well. (The Neyer/James Guide to Pitchers has statistical sections I skipped over; too much trouble to decode.) I read George V. Higgins’s Cogan’s Trade a few weeks ago and had trouble keeping the speakers straight. Higgins’s continuous dialog lay out better on a printed page. (Possibly on the larger Kindles, too. I have the standard size.) The solution is easy: don’t buy those kinds of books for Kindle; get the real book.

There’s one more key weakness for an e-reader, one that can’t be overcome. Last week a box from Amazon arrived in the mail, a day earlier than expected. Watching books download to a Kindle cannot match the anticipation of cutting open a box, knowing the first thing you’ll get is that new book smell, followed by holding your new books in your hand. The tactile sensation can’t be replicated.

To go another step, an Amazon delivery can’t replicate the joy of browsing a bookstore, looking for unexpected treasures. (Not even when it’s a day early.) My problem is there aren’t a lot of independent bookstores convenient to me; the nearest store featuring crime fiction is over 80 miles away, across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. (Given my two phobias are heights and water deeper than I can stand in, it takes more than book shopping for me to drive across that bridge.)

Another problem for me is that few stores carry the writers I most like to read; I’m not a best-seller kind of guy. I found a nice independent bookstore in Arlington VA while making the rounds trying to place Grind Joint, and it has a nice mystery section, though very few of the writers I look for. I’m keeping a list handy of the more mainstream people I want to read to do my bit for the indies, but the bulk of my purchases are through Amazon, one way or another. I doubt I’ll burn in hell for that, though it is yet another reason why I’ll have to fly stand-by out of Purgatory (PRG).


Charlieopera said...

Personally, I LOVED the orgy scene. total Agreement on Scarlett J. How did you like Cogan's Trade? I was pissed at the movie version. I also agree on opening amazon boxes for new books ... yesterday I received The Bitch by Les Edgerton and it cut off the last 25 pages of Mrs. Dalloway (which I'd been laboring with for more than a week now) ... I'll finish Les's book in a day or two.

Dana King said...

I finished The Bitch Wednesday night. I'd planned to write about it for today, but things came up and I didn't have time to do it justice. I'll have something up for Monday.

As for Cogan's Trade, I saw the movie first and liked it, for the most part. When i read the book I was glad I'd seen the movie; it helped me keep everyone straight in my head. That was the issue I had with the Kindle. Not enough text displayed at once, and the new paragraphs weren't as easy to stop as they'd be in a book. I had trouble keeping straight who was talking. Hell of a book, though.