‘ahems and ahahs’

Literature, & Etc.

Posts Tagged ‘book

A book should be a book, right?

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I’ve read two recent articles over at the Guardian and it has made me reflect on a trend that seems to be occurring at the moment, the blending of mixed media when it comes to the book form.

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Nick Cave, a musician, poet, artist, actor, dare I say it: renaissance man recently released: “Nick Cave’s new novel The Death of Bunny Munro – the story of a sex-maniac travelling salesman taking his last road trip – goes to market through the iPhone App Store, in an enhanced edition that is being launched before the print version.”

The enhanced app has the following advantages:

you can faff with fonts, change colour, bookmark it, and so on; and there’s some smart social networking stuff attached. But it also includes enhancements that could have a noticeable effect on the experience of reading. Instead of paginating the book conventionally, it’s presented as a continuous vertical scroll (one geek-pleasing trick is that you can adjust the scrolling speed with the angle of tilt of the phone), and the App includes an audiobook that syncs with the written text. Pop on the headphones, thumb the screen and Cave’s voice picks up where you left off.

So the question is? Is all of that necessary for the enjoyment of a book? Thomas Pynchon’s latest release Inherent Vice now has an added feature to “enhance” the reading. Pynchon has released a playlist to accompany the reading:

a list of the songs which feature in Inherent Vice, which follows the story of pot-smoking private eye Larry “Doc” Sportello. From The Beach Boys (God Only Knows and Help Me, Rhonda) to The Beatles (Can’t Buy Me Love), Frank Sinatra (Fly Me to the Moon) and Pink Floyd (Interstellar Overdrive), the soundtrack, whichhe designed for Amazon.com, is a journey through the music of the 1960s, the setting for his new novel.

It also includes a few fictional tunes: a song “performed” by Doc himself, Skyful of Hearts, as well as providing a nod to Scott Oof of Vineland fame, whose band Beer “performs” the theme song from The Big Valley.

Again, I have to ask if all of this is necessary for the reading of a book? I guess on the one hand I can understand that in today’s modern world with all of the distractions that are constantly around us, I can understand the desire to add some pizzazz and punch to a work of art in any medium to attract people so that they generate some interest and passion for the work. But it is also sad that it takes this much excess to draw the eye.

A book cannot be a book anymore, it must have a playlist, it must be read to us, it must glow in the dark and be downloaded instantly into our minds.

The fact that books now have “trailers” astounds me and I’m not sure if this is a good thing or not? Good in catching the eye, but as I’ve said, bad because this signifies that we are too caught up in the light-show and that these works cannot simply stand on their own now.

I enjoy mixed media and I support the arts in all of its forms, but still, sometimes a book should just be a book. Maybe I’m turning into a curmudgeon (I can hear Erin saying outloud, “turning into….” with a very particular tone).

Your thoughts?

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Written by thebeliever07

August 12, 2009 at 4:15 pm

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I have a large collection of books and my library is constantly overflowing: onto the floor and off of the shelves. I have a pretty good memory when it comes to the books that I own and the memories associated with those books. I know that certain books are gifts from certain people and this is a pleasant thing. There are some books that go beyond a simple association with a friend or relative and this then is one of the pleasures of owning so many books and collecting them in a personal library. I’ve had people ask me why I insist on owning books and there is a very simple answer. I collect books because they are very much like family to me.

It’s amazing how I can look at my library and see certain periods of my life: that was when I was obsessed with fantasy, that was my science fiction age, that was only a few years ago when I was all about biographies, etc.

I thought I’d share one book in particular that is bound up in memory.

Dune by Frank Herbert

Sadly I do not own the actual book that is associated with this memory, as I most likely gave it away, something I tend to do as a result of my need to share passion of literature with all I meet. I must have been about 11 or 12 when my Aunt, my Massi (mah- seee) and her family took me on a trip to Yellowstone National Park. At some point on our way from Dallas to Utah we ended up at a small airport waiting for a transfer onto a smaller plane and I did not have anything to read, so my cousin said that she would let me pick any book in the airport book store. I think the cover of Dune is what caused me to pick it up.

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Let’s be honest, that is an intriguing book cover and if you saw that on a rack you would pick it up and at least consider it.

I am so very glad that I picked this book up as it was my first introduction to the power of science fiction. Dune still resonates with society today (extremist faith and ideology, economic dependency on a single product, war, revolution, justice, etc.). I was unable to get my face out of the book for the rest of the trip. Anytime I see Dune in a bookstore this memory jumps right into my head and makes me smile.

Written by thebeliever07

June 21, 2009 at 8:58 am

Thank You and You’re Welcome. NO THANKS!

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I get annoyed with a lot of things in life, but one that really irks me is when people are proud of their ignorance. 

Kanye West has now joined the ranks of the woefully ignorant and misinformed. 

“I am a proud non-reader of books. I like to get information from doing stuff like actually talking to people and living real life,” he said.

“Sometimes people write novels and they just be so wordy and so self-absorbed,” West said. “I am not a fan of books. I would never want a book’s autograph. 

“My mom taught me to believe in my flyness and conquer my shyness,” he said, defining “flyness” as confidence.

So writes Kanye in a book that he’s recently released: KY_TYYWv2917

Apparently rap-stars who are popular in mainstream media have credibility when it comes to writing and as such can expound on the virtues and vices of life. I am sure that Kanye West has indeed lived an amazing life and faced struggles and tribulations the like of which I’ve never seen. But the quotation above [ click on image for more at his blog ], is something that angers me quite a bit. He certainly has every right to “write” a book and to share his thoughts and life story, or as he calls his wisdom “Kanye-isms.”

It is not so much the latter, but the former part of that quote that pisses me off. To proclaim proudly of the fact that he does not read is the height of absurdity and stupidity. 

As I’ve already said, he certainly has every right to tell his life story or his life philosophy or whatever the hell he thinks this book is about, but to share this one thought pisses me right off. Whether you want to admit it or not, fan or not a fan, Kanye has amazing influence in the world and as a result, with children. 

Another irony of his life, someone who looks down upon the written word, sure seems to rely heavily on their influence, after all what is rap if not poetry set to music. UGH!

He is sending the wrong message by telling children that everything he’s learned he’s learned in life. Kind of ironic, telling people that they should not read a book and go out and live life from a book that you’ve just published. Here’s a small peak inside from his website: 

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Tell you what Kanye, you got what you wanted because I certainly won’t be picking up this trash philosophy that you’re attempting to espouse on the larger public. 

It is already difficult to get children reading when there are so many distractions in the world [ ipods, computers, television, etc.. ], the last thing we need is someone who has influence like Kanye preaching his idiotic message to the world. Here’s hoping this book fails.

Oh and the best part of this entire issue, courtesy of MSNBC:

West’s derision of books comes despite the fact that his late mother, Donda West, was a university English professor before she retired to manage his music career. She died in 2007 of complications following cosmetic surgery.

Written by thebeliever07

May 28, 2009 at 8:29 am

Posted in art, book reviews, media

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