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Odd Words August 16, 2012

Posted by The Typist in books, literature, New Orleans, Odd Words, Poetry, Toulouse Street.
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This time last year I though the Kindle was the Cylon of the literary world. I was convinced I loved books too much–the smell and the feel and the heft–to ever consider giving e-books the least attention until the world as I knew it was destroyed and I was forced to get one. And to use recycled garbage bags in the bathroom because all the trees were destroyed in the attack.

Then I went back to school, and picked up the world cheapest Android tablet, a device almost as useful as it is annoying in its quirks. It did, however, allow me to load up Kindle Reader for Android and give it a whirl. At first I just figured out how to get the public domain, Internet readings into Word and converted to PDF in a format I could read. The professor was a Kindle users, and would either search for something or ask someone in the class to do the same. I decided I had to try it (and a couple of the books were out of copyright and cheap).

Searching. Highlighting. Notes. I was hooked. Then I got a reminder from a credit card I’ve had for years that I had tens of thousands of those points you can use to buy useful things like flying toasters. It’s sort of like S&H stamps for people who remember those. I always wondered who saved up enough books of stamps for the Winnebago in the back. Did anyone ever really do that? Ah, but I had to go look and Lo! there was a Kindle. Granted it’s the cheap one that displays ads on the screen after you turn it off or when you use the menu but who cards? It was next to free.

Because I am never happy unless I overload myself with so much stuff to do that I start to feel unhappy, or worse exacerbate my Generalized Anxiety Disorder (which is probably why I do this in the first place, or perhaps ADHD and I — look, a squirrel — so between a full work week that tends so start around 6 a.m. when I check my VPN and two courses at UNO that start next week and the kids and the blog and the other writing I do I just had to decide now was the perfect time to read Thomas Pynchon’s 1085 page whirlwind of character, setting and plot Against the Day. I was maybe fifty pages in when I decided it might help preserve my sanity to go in and start highlighting every character’s name for reference.

Boy, am I ever hooked now. The problem is, I just know I’m going to go out and buy the damned book when I’m done. For people like me (us?) that bookshelf in the front room is as much a part of who we are as a facial tattoo. And since I’ve read everything else Pynchon has written there’d be this obvious, gaping hole in my library should another Pynchon fancier walk into the house. I wonder if the whiz kids in accounting and marketing took folks like us (or just me?) into account when they came up with this idea. “We can sell these addicts two copies easier and faster than glass pipes at the corner store!”

If I once thought the Kindle was the Cylon race of literature, I am now a fully woken skin job embed.

& so to the listings:

& Tonight (Thursday) at 5:30 p.m. Garden District Book Shop hosts Daniel Wolff and his new book Fight For Home: How (Parts of) New Orleans Came Back. After the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans became ground zero for the reinvention of the American city, with urban planners, movie stars, anarchists, and politicians all advancing their competing visions of recovery. In this wash of reform, residents and volunteers from across the country struggled to build the foundations of a new New Orleans. For over five years Wolff has documented an amazing cross-section of the city in upheaval: a born-again preacher with a ministry of ex-addicts, a former Black Panther organizing for a new cause, a single mother, “broke as a joke” in a FEMA trailer. “The Fight for Home “chronicles their battle to survive not just the floods, but the corruption that continues and the base-level emergency of poverty and neglect. From ruin to limbo to triumphant return, Wolff offers an intimate look at the lives of everyday American heroes. As these lives play out against the ruined local landscape and an emerging national recession, “The Fight for Home “becomes a story of resilience and hope.

I knew Dave Eggars was right when he told the Tennessee Williams Festival crowd a few years back there were a hundred Katrina manuscripts waiting to be written.

& On Saturday August 18th (so you don’t miss it by heading off to Whole Foods that morning) Octavia Books will celebrate Julia Child’s birthday featuring Bon Appetit! The Delicious Life of Julia Child by Jessie Hartland. In a starred review, Publishers Weekly raves, “Chef and TV personality Julia Child likely would have delighted in and hooted over this wide-ranging picture-book biography…. Readers young and old will devour this fete pour les yeux.”

& On Saturday at 2 p.m. Octavia Books hosts an afternoon book signing with local fitness trainer Jennifer Lorman celebrating her new book, MOMMYMOVEMENT: New Baby • New Body • New Life. Lormand shares her proven method of getting your body back after baby.
& Also on Saturday at 1 p.m. Maple Street Book Shop will host Retired Basketball Players James “Dukes” Donaldson (Seattle Supersonics, San Diego/L.A. Clippers, Dallas Mavericks, New York Knicks, Utah Jazz, Harlem Globetrotters; and NBA All-Star 1988) will be reading and signing his book Standing Above the Crowd: Execute your Game Plan to Be the Best You Can Be Saturday, August 18th at 1PM. Donaldson will be joined by Stephen Bardo (Continental Basketball Association, Dallas Mavericks, Detroit Pistons, San Antonio Spurs), who will be discussing his own book, How to Make the League Without Picking Up the Rock: The Ultimate Teenage Success Guide.

& Sunday at 3 p.m. is an open mic at the Maple Leaf Bar Reading Series. Give everyone my regards, as since I’ve started swapping my sons at five o’clock on Sunday I just haven’t been able to make it. Make sure somebody helps Nancy haul in the amplifier and mike stand.

& On Sunday evening at 7 p..mm. Spoken Word New Orleans presents Speak Easy Sundays Poetry at the Club Caribbean 2441 Bayou Road. Cover. Visit their website for updates on other spoken words and visiting artists all around town.

& Susan Larson, the former book editor of the former Times-Picayune newspaper and member of the National Book Critics Circle hosts The Reading Life on WWNO (89.9 FM) on Tuesdays at 1:30 p.m. repeating Sundays at Noon. She features interviews with authors of local and national interest.

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