When a book’s cover touts it as “the best book about men and women written in the last century,” you nominate it for your book club.
Or at least that’s what I was thinking when I put forward Chris Kraus’ I Love Dick for my own. It’s what I was thinking until about 50 pages in, when I realized I’d made a huge mistake.
I really wanted to like this book. A semi-fictional retelling of Kraus’ IRL obsessions with professor Dick Hebdige, the memoir/novel follows Kraus as she and her husband Sylvère meet an artist named Dick and, after an objectively uneventful dinner, become obsessed with him. They begin writing letters to Dick, which Kraus ultimately presents to him as an art project of sorts. While the Dick obsession eventually takes its toll on Kraus and Sylvère’s marriage, and Kraus and Dick do eventually sleep together, the majority of ILD is devoted to these awkward encounters and ambiguous exchanges, and to Kraus’ increasingly cringe-worthy attempts to get Dick’s attention.Kraus’ book was recently adapted into an Amazon show, starring Kathryn Hahn (of Transparent) as Kraus and Kevin Bacon as Dick. The show, while equally cringe-y, is at times laugh-out-loud funny; in its slightly altered plot, Kraus is a hopelessly awkward artist who finds herself stuck in Marfa, Texas, with Sylvère, who has a fellowship at the local college (in the book they go on a road trip).
It’s that time of year again, when you try to buy a cute little Christmas tree-like plant for your apartment—to be festive-like—and the cat knocks it over within like 0.3 seconds, so you spend the evening vacuuming up dirt and the bits of Christmas-tree-like-plant tendrils instead of basking in the feeling of accomplishment slash self-pity that comes with buying Christmas decorations probably only you yourself will see, but so you go out and buy a new mini Christmas tree plant anyway, decorate it, and Instagram it to feel better.
Also known as the holidays.
Cat lady moments notwithstanding, the end of the year brings with it a flurry of “Best of 2012” lists, designed to inform you of all the great writing produced over the last 12 months, and guilt trip you for not having read enough of it. How I’ve gotten through a book every week, and yet somehow managed to avoid reading even one of the NYT’s’ 100 Notable Books, is beyond me. In a related query, how could they have snubbed Sookie Stackhouse No. 12??
So it’s a big week for e-readers (which I’m told are like books except on little miniature computers) as Amazon unveiled Kindle FIRE *sizzle* (sound effects mine), the company’s long-awaited tablet device (i.e. iPad assassin). The $199 doodad is pretty much a Blackberry PlayBook—it has a 7-inch color touch screen, plays movies and music, lets you browse the interwebs and oh, gives you access to like a bazillion e-books. Hooray for technology!
In addition to Fire, Amazon also unveiled new pricing tiers for a variety of other Kindle models: A Kindle Touch runs $99 for a WiFi-enabled version, or $149 for 3G, and a plain old readin’-stuff Kindle is now a mere $79, less than the price of four hardcovers. (You can also still get versions with keyboards, if you’re like geriatric or whatever.)
Now, friends of this blog know I have typically been …whatever the opposite of an enthusiast is when it comes to the Kindle. I’m one of those old-school, paper-loving weirdos that likes to stand on her soapbox and talk about the smell of books, the feel of cracking a spine, the satisfaction of turning a final page. Without physical books, approximately a third of my 330-square-foot apartment would be empty, at least two of my friends would have nothing to borrow, and at this particular moment my purse would be about a thousand pounds lighter (thank you, Under The Dome.)
In a way I can’t remember feeling about the switch from cassettes to CDs or CDs to iPods, I’ve stubbornly held on to my preference for the tangible book, (a preference evidenced by the number of used Barnes & Noble bags I have stored under my kitchen sink.) But although I am a veritable Maxine when it comes to e-reading, I have always said that I would make the switch when it became unavoidable. Yesterday’s announcement raises the question (not only for me, but for everyone in the publishing industry): is it that time?