So my purchase of a Kindle began earlier this year with me finally giving in to the electronic age. I had been staring at my overflowing bookshelves and thinking that I really needed to trim things down. My partner suggested that I replace physical versions with electronic versions of my favorite novels.
A funny thing happened then.
With an Amazon gift card of $100 burning in my electronic account, I set off to buy some books, only to start thinking about series I’d started years back but never finished. One of these series was Piers Anthony’s Incarnations series. I had left off reading “With a Tangled Skein” and became bored, way back in the 1990’s.
So now in 2012, I decided to pick up where I’d left off.
I’m not sure if this is true for everyone, but it seems as if reading on a Kindle, a writer’s style becomes so much clearer–perhaps because the ebook format usually requires taking away a lot of the fancy fonts and design elements of a print book. Piers Anthony has a very simplistic style. There was almost a lyrical quality in that the world of the Incarnations is somewhat our world but not quite, because various cultures accept that magic is real. I struggled through parts of it but found the ending satisfying. I like that Mars was of Indian descent and struggled to find himself in the narrowly constructed Orthodox ethos. He kept trying to break free, and with help from Oriental wisdom, actually managed to do this by the end.
Almost as interesting as the book was the long Author’s Note at the end. This was written in about 1985 or so, and it details the laborious transition from manual typewriter to computer with a Dvorak keyboard (something I’d never even heard of.). I laughed at the comparisons of operation system–MS DOS! But it just hit home how much things have changed, and not in that long a time span. He complained of how difficult it was to set up macros and the danger of power outages and power surges and having a $10,000 computer system. I don’t know the exact comparison, but that was a LOT of money back then. I remember when “The Price is Right” used to make a big deal whenever a car price was five digits rather than four.
And how nice is it that words can remain (hopefully) indefinitely in electronic form? As I struggle with my own computer skills in translating the written word (and yes, the first incarnation of my first novel was written in black pen on a five subject college-lined notebook) to the ebook form, I feel some kind of connection with this celebrated writer.
Viva la change, I suppose!