Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Sofa and the Kindle

"I'm not a literary genius...I was not an orphan. I have never blown anyone for coke or let other people do coke off any part of my body. I have never struggled with addiction and I was never molested. Tragically, my life has only been moderately fucked up. I'm not writing this book to share wisdom or to inspire people." 
 -- Sarah Silverman, The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee

I am seventeen percent of the way through Sarah Silverman's new book on my new (to me) Kindle Wireless Reading Device, Free 3G, 6" Display, White - 2nd Generation. I think that's right.

Today was a big, big day in that I was lovingly handed down two of my favorite friends' two most cherished possessions. One handed down his kindle, and one handed down her Arhaus sofa (the kind with the down cushions that you squish into). They both seemed a little wistful to see these things go, but I reassured them that this is an Open Adoption. I'll send pictures. They can visit any time they want, confident in the knowledge that these treasures have a home just as loving and appreciative as their own. They won't drive by and see the kindle tied up in the yard, or the sofa sitting on the front porch. 

My quest for the perfect sofa has been in overdrive since I moved last Spring, because I refused to move the old one into the new place. There wasn't anything wrong with it, but I stopped liking it, and I refused to move it.

This has meant a long summer of guests literally sitting on the floor (utterly without least not to my face), but I have stuck to my guns. The Big Ass Chair seats two at the most -- and even that requires a certain romantic commitment... not to mention an embrace of certain principles of yoga.

The rule is if I don't love it, it can't live here. I'm not all snooty about it -- I'm happy to go without until the right thing presents itself. I have made one exception for a lamp I like that has an ugly shade, because it seemed a little extreme to light the living room with a bare ass bulb. I can picture the shade I want, but I haven't found it yet.

My bud Ian says my problem is champagne tastes on a beer budget -- and that's part of it -- but that isn't precisely true. I just have very, very specific taste, which I have a very difficult time articulating. I wasn't born speaking Dwell Magazine, I'm learning the vocabulary one painstaking mistake at a time. For a long time when I tried to describe "contemporary," I was saying "modern," and ended up with some terrible Jetsonian errors.

Harriette in her Kitchen
I do know my friend Harriette's house in the country (our bleugrass Hamptons) is perfect, so at least she gives me a jumping-off point, but it's a point of inspiration-only. I know her sofa is a magnificent B & B Italia and that if I had it, the general response would not be "wow!" (as it is when you see Harriette's), but rather "who does she think she's kidding?" It's Art, and I'm not sure I can pull off a room where you sit on the Art.

Luckily, I can read all about it in all the Design Magazines I plan to subscribe to on the new Kindle.

Today is the first time I ever touched one, and yes, I do realize I am several years late to the party. I wasn't boycotting them -- as some writers do -- it was just on the list of things I hadn't gotten around to. I've never had a "sky is falling" philosophical opposition to them "replacing" books. I won't be hauling the kindle to book club. There are books I want to keep and physically annotate and look at on my shelves so I can go back to them over and over again, but honestly, not all that many. I've never been much of a book hoarder.

I am, however, both a compulsive reader, and an insanely fast one. On any given weekend, I can power through a half dozen new releases that have piled up on my desk during the week. If they're good, I try to force myself to slow down because I want to make them last, but I never can. Factor in the insomnia and I constantly run out of things to read in the middle of the night, long after the bookstores are closed and amazon isn't shipping.

The kindle strikes me as a perfect remedy for that. The new Sarah Silverman is a good example. She is way, way too scatological for my taste in humor. Sometimes I think she's funny, and sometimes a little repulsive. I wouldn't take down a tree for this book, but I am happy to read it. Midway through, I did have to text Michael and ask him if the Kindle lit up, or if I was expected to turn on the lamp like a goddamn animal. I can see myself reading it by kerosene during the next Ice Storm.

I am not an early adopter (remember, I insisted writers bring me their stories on disk for years because their stupid attachments wouldn't open and I really didn't see "that whole email thing catching on"), but I'm not a Luddite either. My cousin and I had a long talk yesterday where I explained to him the fax machines of yore with the curly paper, and he made fun of the days when I tied my columns to the ankles of carrier pigeons and dispatched them throughout the city.

Disdain for technology is a luxury for folks way higher up the literary food chain than I am. It's fine to adore Wendell Berry and all, but it's equally fine to remember that his lovely wife types all his manuscripts. I don't have a wife. I have facebook. And if somebody shows me something that makes my life easier and better, I am happy to take them up on it. I love information and I love knowledge (two different things, I realize) and I'm glad to improve my access to both.

As I was typing this, however, I got a voicemail from my BFF that says, "I am calling you on the Gmail."  She said I could call her back on it too. I have no idea what that means, but apparently, somebody has now replaced telephones. Perhaps she will read this blog crudely fashioned from twigs and berries and call me back. Last Thanksgiving, I talked to her on The Skype while she was in Siberia, so if she says phones are over, we'd best believe her.

Between you and me, I suspect It's Like Havin' a Dove Field.

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