Archive for May, 2013

May 15, 2013

What Happened To Fiction?

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I haven’t read a book of fiction since Moby Dick was a guppy.

With hundreds of books piled about my space, I believe there are only two works of fiction among them.  There is an edition of the Divine Comedy, from which I read Dante’s Inferno.  This is the piece of fiction that I read, and that was years ago – went out in grand style, for sure.

The other is an edition of Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn…in German.  Since it is written in German, chances are that Dante Alighieri will continue to hold the title as my ‘last great fiction read.’

Of course, there are others that border on being fictional, such as Bill Clinton’s autobiography, My Life.  Similarly, if I did not practice book banning in my home, Dreams From My Father and The Audacity Of Hope would fall into dusty obscurity.

The disappearance of fiction books from my life is as big of a question as to why dinosaurs disappeared from the face of the planet.  Obviously, however, it wasn’t caused by a comet or meteorite crashing through my world as I am still here.

Perhaps it occurred with the growth of CNN, where I could now view twisted reality 24/7.

Maybe it was due to my developing a habit of reading while on the crapper and during that limited time I wanted to read something more substantial than a few pages of the developing characterization of some fictional protagonist.

Whatever the reason, the likes of Rowling, Patterson, and E.L. James have not been able to magically and mysteriously seduce me away from the likes of McCullough, Ambrose, and Theodore White.

Barnes & Noble is trying to drive me away from non-fiction as the most popular books in this genre that they stick in your face are self-help books and books written on or by some celebrity who should have read some of the self-help books.  It will not work; I’m still pissed that they survived and Borders died way too soon.

I’m sure that there have been many great books since fiction went into exile.  Perhaps Tom Clancy and Robert Ludlum could keep me coming back for more like Zane Grey and Jack London once did.  Could John Grisham hold Ellery Queen’s spy glass?

I don’t know.

I have never seen Star Wars either.

May 13, 2013

LIFE WITHOUT THE INTERNET

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I’m not talking about 20-25 years ago, I’m talking about this morning!

Mondays are (ostensibly) my day off and I like to get out early in the morning and hit the coffee shop du jour – or de la semaine in this case – and read the morning news via various iPad apps while drinking way too much coffee (no wonder I’m so jacked up over the day’s news).

This morning I chose to grace a version of Starbucks that is found in West Hartford, CT.  I say ‘version’ because each Starbucks store is different; each has its own ambiance, aura, style, and each will fire the writing and thinking neurons in different ways – a sort of spacial muse.

This particular West Hartford barrister training ground is found in West Hartford center, where along with the Blue Back Square area of the town is, for the average guy from Maine, quite fu-fu.  Thus, when the hanging bells on the door ring it is usually to announce the arrival of high heels or suits, soon followed by the calling out of some coffee drink that takes a half-minute to say.  At any rate, one would expect this particular Starbucks location to be at the top of their game; full of experienced and efficient barristers, clean bathrooms, a bakery display sans the fruit flies, easy chairs that do not make you itch, and fully functioning internet (it is the 21st century after all).

Everything was great except for the latter of these requirements needed to enjoy my simple morning pleasure.

Imagine my horror (I heard someone in West Hartford say that) when after firing up the old iPad, I discovered that the store’s internet connection was on the fritz.  My God!  Would I have to buy a newspaper; the New York Times, or worse, the once popular and credible USA Today?!!  Where will I get news of the fresh blame placed on Republicans by President Obama?!  More importantly (so it seems), how will I know what’s in store for this week’s American Idol finale?!!

There was actually someone at a table across the room who was reading a book…a real book, with a cover and a spine, not one of those ‘e’ things.

I wasn’t able to go into my Yahoo Mail account and delete all the spam emails that had collected overnight, which seem to be attracted to Yahoo like dust to a Swifter.  I don’t play games, electronic or otherwise, so that element of the internet wasn’t an issue.

However, time had not completely reverted back to the time of the Commodore64.  Thanks to the iPad and a clever little app called, “Offline Reader,” which I had, over the past few weeks, ignored copyright laws and loaded with news and opinions pieces culled from the web, I was able to have my morning dose of skewed reality reading.

After nearly 2 hours, I went to have breakfast and then home for a nap – let’s see them come up with an app for that!  The way in which we do some things will never change.

So, where would you be if tomorrow morning you were met with a total internet blackout, mobile and otherwise?  And, taken a step further, a total loss of cell phone usage?  Would you stop on your way work to a use a pay phone in order to call one of your 349 “friends” to tell them what silly thing your pet did that morning?  How would you make up for the loss of being able to tweet about what a twit some celebrity is according to what you last saw on Entertainment Tonight?

I have to go and charge the battery to my iPad.