Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Now for a real treat - Baker on Kindle

I've raved before about Nicholson Baker's reviews, and how they always put me in a good mood, and then make me buy another book. Now he reviews the Kindle...I'm only into paragraph two, but already he has delighted with knuckle-gnawer of a novel and [Kindle as]an alpenhorn blast of post-Gutenbergian revalorization and the Bowflex of bookishness (ie. something expensive that, when you commit to it, it forces you to do more of whatever it is you think you should be doing more of.) More than any writer I know, Baker reminds me - especially in his reviews and essays - of the pleasure of reading sentences per se. "The Size of Thoughts" (for example) is chock full of sentences that make you gasp with delight.

Now that I've read the whole thing, more quotables:
[decrying the difficulty of quoting precisely from the Kindle] If you want to quote from a book you’ve bought, you have to quote by location range—e.g., the phrase “She was on the verge of the mother of all orgasms” is to be found at location range 1596-1605 in Mari Carr’s erotic romance novel “Tequila Truth.”

[about the Kindle DX's presentation of newspapers] A century and a half of of evolved beauty and informational expressiveness is all but entirely rinsed away in this digital reductio.

[on night-reading from the iPhone, which Baker much prefers to the Kindle] Each time you need to turn the page, just move your thumb over it, as if you were getting ready to deal a card; when you do, the page will slide out of the way, and a new one will appear. After a while, your thoughts will drift off to the unused siding where the old tall weeds are, and the string of curving words will toot a mournful toot and pull ahead. You will roll to a stop. A moment later, you'll wake and discover that you're still holding the machine but it has turned itself off. Slide it back under the pillow. Sleep.

[going back to the Kindle from the iPhone] It was like going from a Mini Cooper to a white 1982 Impala with blown shocks. But never mind: at that point, I was locked into the plot and it didn’t matter.

So, ultimately, it doesn't matter...because before the power of the book (Michael Connelly's "The Lincoln Lawyer", which Baker forces himself to read on the Kindle out of a sense of duty) Poof, the Kindle disappeared, just as Jeff Bezos had promised it would.

Once again, a Baker review causes me to run out and buy something, this time a Michael Connelly paperback.

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