Tuesday, October 19, 2010


I did something this evening that made me feel very guilty: namely, I went to my favorite New York bookstore and surreptitiously noted down the names of books that I have now purchased from Amazon for Kindle. I did buy about $50 worth of merchandise at the real bookstore (Lydia Davis's new Madame Bovary translation, a 2011 weekly Moleskin planner - and yes, those two together totaled $47.80 with sales tax!), but I am now hunched over my computer at Starbucks guiltily gloating over my new acquisitions...

(I had eleven things on my list, with a twelfth added as I thought of it while looking at things on Amazon; perhaps it is worth noting that about two-thirds of the list was procurable via Kindle - I am too lazy to put in the links, but that includes Tom McCarthy's new novel, Joseph O'Neill's memoir, new novels by Jennifer Egan and Sigrid Nunez - but that four I particularly coveted were not: Martin Millar's Curse of the Wolf Girl, Thomas Disch's The Businessman, several British thrillers that are not available to U.S. Kindle-owners.)

Yesterday I read a spectacularly good book that is much more my dream Kindle reading experience than anything else I've had so far, not least because it was free: it is Lewis Shiner's Black & White. All of his fiction is downloadable at that link, as PDF files and in several other formats; the PDF worked out really well for me, I like being able to keep the original page formatting, and the transfer to Kindle was easy as pie.

(Here's where Shiner explains why he's making all this good stuff available for free.)

I have been recommending Glimpses enthusiastically for many years now - I picked up a copy from the fellow who sells used paperbacks in front of Milano Market, and read it in absolute shock that I had never heard of it before, it is so much exactly the kind of book I most like. I think about it all the time, it's definitely one of those novels that has really affected my sense of the world as well as of what's out there in terms of fiction (I must say that it was partial inspiration for my Clarkesworld story "The Other Amazon").

Black & White is a quite different novel, more ambitious in certain ways but surely equally gripping (I missed my stop on the subway, I was so immersed!). (Amazon needs to fix the blurb glitch on that page, by the way.) Maybe the most striking thing about it is the analysis of how the father of the present-day story's protagonist could have been at once in the grip of the dreams of the Civil Rights Movement and completely consumed by the notion of building an interstate that decimated Durham, NC's hitherto thriving black neighborhoods (I should have this passage, but have not quite figured out how to mark such things for subsequent retrieval - there is no true equivalent of the post-it in this context); anyway, it was such a good book, I am going to go right now and download the other couple novels of Shiner's I haven't yet read....

I think that The Explosionist and Invisible Things will be difficult as yet for me to make available for free online, but that I must really pursue the situation with Heredity and see if I could get it up as a PDF or in some other format that people can use with the common e-reader apps - not sure about logistics, but it really would be good....

1 comment:

  1. Yes please do "pursue the situation" re Heredity! (To state the obvious, it'd be Wild.)