Saturday, April 02, 2011

Paperback Writer

But I need a break and I want to be a paperback writer,
Paperback writer. - "Paperback Writer", Lennon/McCartney, 1966

Bus People, New York
"When's Easter?" my husband who commutes to New York from Australia, asked me. I have to be understanding but at times it's hard.... "How would I know?" I replied. "I live in New York. I know when Passover is."

It can be so difficult - being bi-cultural. Not to mention being "old" and straddling two centuries.

For those of us who still remember last century, there is so much to take into account in communicating with the alphabet generations. I have to straddle not just continents and cultures, but generations, and at times it can be overwhelming.

Take reading for example. It seems like only yesterday when I aspired to having floor to ceiling bookshelves, a library room even, for my "books". And now ... well two years ago I gave most of my books way to charity. And by 2010 I couldn't even remember what it was like to read a dead tree book.

Subway People, New York
Then last week I couldn't get interested in any of the novels on my Kindle and I remember that a few months back I'd bought paper book, "Slammerkin" by Emma Donoghue. I had become addicted to Donoghue after reading "Room", and later her "The Sealed Letter". I could not get enough of her work and at the time Slammerkin was only available in the US in hardback, so I'd bought it.

The excitement of actually reading it faded rapidly after the ungainly thing arrived - so heavy, so last century - and so the hardcover sat on a shelf, gathering that very fine Manhattan dust that envelopes everything that stands still for more than a second.

I've been reading Slammerkin for several days now, and though it isn't a patch on "Room" it is still worth the effort of lugging it around town like someone from the 18th century where the novel is set.

I spoke to friend on the phone. "I am reading a paper book," I confided. "It's terrible!" She agreed. I have to physically bookmark when I leave off reading. There's no real-time dictionary. What IS a "slammerkin" anyway? I expect to be able to look up words anytime, any place, anyhow.

Cab People, New York
And it is SO heavy. And big. Last night coming home from work the bus was even more crowded than usual. Plus everyone was carrying umbrellas and we were all squashed together damply. I looked around. People were either staring ahead or texting or talking on cell phones. Or reading on electronic devices. And there I was taking up 1.2 bus seat spaces as my elbows were spread out in order that I was able to open my hardback volume.

I was forced to wonder what it would be like reading an illuminated manuscript while sitting on a plough in 16th century France, while everyone is  reading Aelius Donatus's "Ars Minor" in codex - courtesy of Johannes Gensfleisch zur Laden zum Gutenberg.

Quelle horreur!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

there is no greater pleasure than reading a book especially a real life paper book. I cant and wont buy a kindle or anything similar. Technology has made life easier in some respects but its has also taken bits of beauty from the world

Post a Comment