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Do eReaders dream of electric librarians?

Hold on for Round Three of higgledy piggledy.

Yesterday, I wrote 1,413 words on "John Four," and found THE END. It's a strange story, maybe even strange for me. Maybe even grim for me, right down to the irony in the Biblical allusion of its title. I wrote yesterday's pages to the Swans' My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky. It was the perfect soundtrack to the story. The last couple of hours of writing yesterday were pell-mell, a dizzy rush through black words. I almost felt as though my brain was tripping over itself. If this story has a moral, it must be that the end of the world is only merciful if it really is the end of the world, and not the beginning of another. Anyway, the vignette will be included in Sirenia Digest #58, along with reprints of most of my Lovecraft Mythos fiction. I felt I should do a Lovecraft issue, since I'll be heading off to the HPLFF next week, so that's what I'm doing.

---

I woke this morning from the most remarkable dreams, though sadly only random shreds remain. But the shreds are dazzling. I was living out a fourth book in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, and somehow Saruman's industrial revolution had occurred after all. The landscape was at first Stalin's Russia, then New York City in the Great Depression. I only saw hobbits and humans. The elves would be gone, of course, but there should have been orcs and dwarves. There were refugees in boxcars in a barren snowy place. At one point, there was a frantic climb through the freezing waters of an enormous dam's spillway. There was a climactic showdown in what seemed to me a bank, and it was very Miller's Crossing somehow, only with swords instead of guns. And I woke from this dream wanting so badly to write a fantasy novel set against the backdrop of the first three decades of the 20th Century.

--- (These divisions, in my mind, make an entry less higgledy piggledy.)

Thanks for all the comments yesterday, mostly as regards ebooks and eReaders. Truth is, on the one hand, I don't care if people are using eReaders. If that's how you want to read, it's sure as hell not my business. I can't do it, because for me a book consists of two parts: 1) the experience of reading it (which includes tactile sensation) and 2) the physical object itself. These things are, for me, indivisible. I'm not looking for a "good read," because the process of reading a book cannot be reduced to mere action. But that's me. I think the only thing that scares me about all this is that I feel fairly certain that if the trend continues, we'll reach a point where what remains of New York publishing will ditch most hardcopy books, especially the midlist. It will be far cheaper to rely on ebooks, as they have so much less overhead (especially since the publishers aren't manufacturing the eReaders). The two greatest expenses in publishing would be eliminated: warehousing and distribution. Sure, there will still be hardbacks for best sellers, and also from specialty houses like Subterranean Press, but most authors won't have access to such luxuries. The midlist author will be consigned to ebooks. And if that happens, I'll stop writing. I'll just stop. Because half of my reward for having written is that tangible object, which to me is a work of art— the book —which can never be reduced to zeroes and ones.

Also, books don't usually break when you drop 'em.

I'm not going to get started on the horror that introducing social networking to the act of reading represents for me. No, I never belonged to book clubs, and I hated literature classes. For me, reading is inherently solitary.

---

Last night we saw Neil Jordan's Ondine (2009). I am a long-time admirer (that's probably putting it too mildly) of Jordan's films, and this one was everything I'd expect. Brilliant, beautiful, and sublime. Fairy tale and mythology are always there, even when they aren't. Fantasy (truth) is inseparable from reality (fact). It's probably the best film about a selkie ever made, regardless of whether or not there's actually a selkie in it. Yes, even better than The Secret of Roan Inish (1994). Filmed in Cork County, Ireland, the landscape is shades of green and grey and blue that are, at once, perfectly solid and yet too exquisite to have ever existed outside cinematography. Great performances from Colin Farrell (Syracuse), Alicja Bachleda (Ondine), and Alison Barry (Annie). Oh, and how can I not love a film about selkies in which Sigur Rós are integral to the plot! If you ask me, this is a must see.

(We also saw the new episode of Glee, which still rocks.)

---

I sat down yesterday and started reading through "As Red as Red" (in Haunted Legends; I don't know why I've started reading my stories in print; I never used to do this). I reached page 80, where the protagonist travels from Providence to Aquidneck Island and Newport. Only, this is what it says:

I made the commute from Providence to Newport, crossing the East Passage of Narragansett Bay to Conanicut Island and then the West Passage to Aquidneck Island and Newport.

This is, of course, backwards. It's akin to being in Manhattan and saying you're going to travel east to New Jersey. It's that wrong. It should read, "I made the commute from Providence to Newport, crossing the West Passage of Narragansett Bay to Conanicut Island and then the East Passage to Aquidneck Island and Newport." But somehow I wrote it down backwards, and, somehow, despite all the times I read it during editing, the mistake was never corrected. I've made this "commute" more times now than I can recall, and this is just a dumb mistake, one that made it into print. Odds are most readers will never catch it, not unless they're familiar with Rhode Island geography. But I had to point it out, if only in the hopes that the embarrassment will make me more attentive in the future. It was a depressing thing to find.

Okay. That's it for now. How can it already be Thursday? Yeah, I know. Because yesterday was Wednesday....

Comments

( 38 comments — Have your say! )
sovay
Sep. 23rd, 2010 05:36 pm (UTC)
And I woke from this dream wanting so badly to write a fantasy novel set against the backdrop of the first three decades of the 20th Century.

Should you do so, I suspect it would be astonishing.

It's probably the best film about a selkie ever made, regardless of whether or not there's actually a selkie in it.

I loved Ondine; I kept meaning to post about it and all my attempts kept turning into ten-page essays. I am so glad you've seen it.
greygirlbeast
Sep. 23rd, 2010 05:40 pm (UTC)

Should you do so, I suspect it would be astonishing.

I so want to write it, but the effort would need years.


I loved Ondine; I kept meaning to post about it and all my attempts kept turning into ten-page essays. I am so glad you've seen it.


It was impossible to watch it and not think of you.
(no subject) - cucumberseed - Sep. 23rd, 2010 09:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - greygirlbeast - Sep. 23rd, 2010 11:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sovay - Sep. 24th, 2010 06:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
unknownbinaries
Sep. 23rd, 2010 05:41 pm (UTC)
Oh, and how can I not love a film about selkies in which Sigur Rós are integral to the plot! If you ask me, this is a must see.

Wow. I wouldn't have known of the existence of this if it weren't for this entry, so, thank you. Must go hunt down this movie, now.
greygirlbeast
Sep. 23rd, 2010 05:45 pm (UTC)


Wow. I wouldn't have known of the existence of this if it weren't for this entry, so, thank you. Must go hunt down this movie, now.


It's criminal it didn't get a wider release.
(no subject) - stsisyphus - Sep. 23rd, 2010 07:29 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sovay - Sep. 24th, 2010 06:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
greygirlbeast
Sep. 23rd, 2010 06:08 pm (UTC)
Why do you often say you found the end?

Well, because writing for me is very much about finding THE END. The place where, even though the story might continue without being written, it's time for me to stop writing it. I often feel as though THE END exists independent of my finding it.

Finding THE END is always a huge relief.

Edited at 2010-09-23 06:11 pm (UTC)
heartofdavid
Sep. 23rd, 2010 06:18 pm (UTC)
Also, books don't usually break when you drop 'em.
True. I have arthritis and find eReaders very uncomfortable to hold, and just the other day dropped (twice) the demonstration model at the local Barnes & Noble. I also find them hard on the eyes. They're not for me.

This style of reading is becoming popular at my local library, where they have a couple thousand digital books available.
greygirlbeast
Sep. 23rd, 2010 06:28 pm (UTC)

This style of reading is becoming popular at my local library, where they have a couple thousand digital books available.

All this just makes me sad.
Wait - spank_an_elf - Sep. 23rd, 2010 06:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Wait - greygirlbeast - Sep. 23rd, 2010 11:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Wait - heartofdavid - Sep. 24th, 2010 12:11 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Wait - greygirlbeast - Sep. 24th, 2010 12:18 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Wait - heartofdavid - Sep. 24th, 2010 03:19 am (UTC) - Expand
spank_an_elf
Sep. 23rd, 2010 07:00 pm (UTC)
Dream Shreds and Crushed Kindles
At least you wrote them down. The concept sounds fabulous.

Re: dropping Kindles, my wealthy boss crushed hers when she shoved it into the overhead on her trip from Paris. She turned around and promptly purchased another. I'm there thinking "the money you spend on gadgets could be spent on the actual books!" Arrrgh.
greygirlbeast
Sep. 23rd, 2010 11:50 pm (UTC)
Re: Dream Shreds and Crushed Kindles

At least you wrote them down. The concept sounds fabulous.

I should write more dreams down.

Re: dropping Kindles, my wealthy boss crushed hers when she shoved it into the overhead on her trip from Paris. She turned around and promptly purchased another. I'm there thinking "the money you spend on gadgets could be spent on the actual books!" Arrrgh.

There's that. Plus, most readers (like iPods and iPhones) will rapidly become obsolete as the tech races through generation after generation of "improved" models that are actually the product of planned obsolescence and market sustainability. Plus, most of the discarded readers (and all readers will be discarded for newer ones after two or three years, max), like other electronics won't be recycled. They'll go into landfills to leak toxic plastics and heavy metals into the earth.

I see no one much talking about this stuff.
bellarabesques
Sep. 23rd, 2010 07:12 pm (UTC)
Granted, this is from someone just getting into letterpress, but plastic will never be as beautiful as paper. It just won't. It's awful to say the physical medium makes little to no difference to the art.
greygirlbeast
Sep. 23rd, 2010 11:51 pm (UTC)

but plastic will never be as beautiful as paper. It just won't.

Hell, if the readers were at least metal!

It's awful to say the physical medium makes little to no difference to the art.

But there you go.
robyn_ma
Sep. 23rd, 2010 07:24 pm (UTC)
'and this is just a dumb mistake, one that made it into print.'

No, goddammit. Jeez, do I have to come over there and be your public-relations secretary?

The correct sentence is, "And this was completely intentional, as I was trying for geographic disorientation, and anyone who reads it as a 'mistake' obviously isn't paying attention to the eerie nuances of my work."

You're welcome.
greygirlbeast
Sep. 23rd, 2010 11:52 pm (UTC)


The correct sentence is, "And this was completely intentional, as I was trying for geographic disorientation, and anyone who reads it as a 'mistake' obviously isn't paying attention to the eerie nuances of my work."


Pffft. Nope. Caitlín fucked up.
stsisyphus
Sep. 23rd, 2010 07:29 pm (UTC)
I have to go get that album now, if only for your "music" tag.

Also, I fully support anything that comes out of your RingPunk dream.
greygirlbeast
Sep. 23rd, 2010 11:53 pm (UTC)

I have to go get that album now, if only for your "music" tag.

It's an excellent album.

Also, I fully support anything that comes out of your RingPunk dream.

Oh. No. Not another -punk.
fusijui
Sep. 23rd, 2010 09:24 pm (UTC)
the end of the world is only merciful if it really is the end of the world

http://www.asofterworld.com/clean/teeth.jpg

Awesome dream. and it was very Miller's Crossing somehow

"The Ring? What Ring?" (blam blam blam) Speaking of such things -- I'm guessing you've seen what they were able to restore of the Howard Hawks version of LOTR?
greygirlbeast
Sep. 23rd, 2010 11:55 pm (UTC)

http://www.asofterworld.com/clean/teeth.jpg <-- This is brilliant!

I'm guessing you've seen what they were able to restore of the Howard Hawks version of LOTR?

Nope.
(no subject) - fusijui - Sep. 24th, 2010 01:51 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - greygirlbeast - Sep. 24th, 2010 01:54 am (UTC) - Expand
catconley
Sep. 23rd, 2010 09:57 pm (UTC)
Better than The Secret of Roan Inish? Wow. I definitely want to see that movie!

There's a late 1800's opera house in the town where I grew up, and that's where I saw Roan Inish for the first time. The acoustics in there are great, so we could hear every movement of the wind and waves, and the soundtrack was so clear. They'd finished the restorations just a little while before they showed the movie, so you could still smell a little of the new paint and carpet smells, but underneath it, you could smell the old wood smell of the chairs and the stage. It was an amazing experience. I have a copy of the movie on DVD and I enjoy watching it, but it's not quite the same...
greygirlbeast
Sep. 23rd, 2010 11:56 pm (UTC)

Better than The Secret of Roan Inish? Wow. I definitely want to see that movie!

Yes. You must.
ellen_datlow
Sep. 24th, 2010 12:29 am (UTC)
Nuts about the error...sorry we didn't have a copy editor who knew the geography of what you were describing!
greygirlbeast
Sep. 24th, 2010 12:41 am (UTC)
Nuts about the error...sorry we didn't have a copy editor who knew the geography of what you were describing!

No, no. It was utterly and entirely my fault. I can't expect copy editors to catch my dumb-ass mistakes, not when said dumb-ass mistakes are so dependent on knowledge of a specialized subject (such as regional geography).

Edited at 2010-09-24 12:42 am (UTC)
(no subject) - ellen_datlow - Sep. 24th, 2010 12:46 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - greygirlbeast - Sep. 24th, 2010 12:48 am (UTC) - Expand
ruggedo
Sep. 24th, 2010 04:10 am (UTC)
Everything you wrote about reading and OWNING books fits all I have ever felt about the act of enjoying the tale. I'm not sure what I would do if I couldnt own that very specific piece of art that is the book.
mellawyrden
Sep. 24th, 2010 01:51 pm (UTC)
"Because half of my reward for having written is that tangible object, which to me is a work of art— the book —which can never be reduced to zeroes and ones."

I love you!!
( 38 comments — Have your say! )