Michael Arrington writes this morning that Amazon is looking for ways to give free Kindles to all Amazon prime users:
In January Amazon offered select customers a free Kindle of sorts – they had to pay for it, but if they didn’t like it they could get a full refund and keep the device. It turns out that was just a test run for a much more ambitious program. A reliable source tells us Amazon wants to give a free Kindle to every subscriber.
Of the last nine books I've read, I've read eight of them on my iPhone using the Kindle app. As a matter of convenience, it's been pretty much perfect, compared to lugging books around.
But I don't think I'd necessarily want a free Kindle device; the marginal improvement to reading just doesn't seem worth it, and I'm not sure I'd want to lug it around, either. What I would love is a better experience for finding books to read (which, I think, is what Michael was also saying).
One of the disadvantages to reading Nabokov's Lolita is that it's a bit awkward to bring around with you in public. Imagine it, on the train to work; on a bench at the park; on an airplane, sitting next to a stranger: everywhere it goes, it draws--or at least, in the mind of its reader, appears to draw--disapproving looks.
And the thing is, it's a filthy book. Absolutely filthy.
But also: funny, and beautiful, and clever, and sad. I read it for the first time, a couple of months ago, and just loved it. Read this, which is one of my many favorite passages (and listen to Nabokov reading the opening lines).
She had entered my world, umber and black Humberland, with rash curiosity; she surveyed it with a shrug of amused distaste; and it seemed to me now that she was ready to turn away from it with something akin to repulsion. Never did she vibrate under my touch, and a strident "what d'you think you are doing?" was all I got for my pains. To the wonderland I had to offer, my fool preferred the corniest movies, the most cloying fudge: To think that between a Hamburger and a Humburger, she would--invariably, with icy precision--plump for the former. There is nothing more atrociously cruel than an adored child. Did I mention the name of that milk bar I visited a moment ago? It was, of all things, The Frigid Queen. Smiling a little sadly, I dubbed her My Frigid Princess. She did not see the wistful joke.
Matt Webb's keynote at reboot11 is pretty great and inspiring and full of interesting things. One of those interesting things is this mention of a South Indian martial art called Kalarippayattu:
There's this idea in Kalarippayattu that you reach with your body an optimal state of awareness and readiness [p19], where you're instinctively and intuitively ready for anything, and it's as if, and I quote, "the body becomes all eyes."
Which reminds me of Roald Dahl's The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More, which I hadn't thought about in years, but which I now really want to read again.
From the latest New Yorker, "Wiggle Room", an excerpt from David Foster Wallace's unfinished third novel The Pale King, as well as a long & really, really sad essay/profile about DFW, "The Unfinished", that talks about his depression and his attempts to fight it, as well as this unfinished novel:
The novel continues Wallace's preoccupation with mindfulness. It is about being in the moment and paying attention to the things that matter, and centers on a group of several dozen I.R.S. agents working in the Midwest. Their job is tedious, but dullness, "The Pale King" suggests, ultimately sets them free. A typed note that Wallace left in his papers laid out the novel's idea: "Bliss—a-second-by-second joy and gratitude at the gift of being alive, conscious—lies on the other side of crushing, crushing boredom. Pay close attention to the most tedious thing you can find (Tax Returns, Televised Golf) and, in waves, a boredom like you’ve never known will wash over you and just about kill you. Ride these out, and it’s like stepping from black and white into color. Like water after days in the desert. Instant bliss in every atom."
I've never read any of Ian McEwan's novels, but I enjoyed the profile of him in last week's New Yorker nonetheless, particularly this part:
Perhaps the one thing that McEwan shares with his more Romantic peers is a love of the long walk. At sixty, he has probably rambled more miles than any English writer since Coleridge. For four decades, he has canvassed the Lake District and the Chilterns—the chalk hills between London and Oxford. Outside England, McEwan has conquered swaths of the Bernese Oberland, the Atlas Mountains, and the Dolomites. Usually, he walks slightly ahead of a companion, and his knapsack contains two stainless-steel cups and a very good bottle of wine.
That sounds pretty much like the perfect way to enjoy a walk.
David Foster Wallace is dead. That's truly, horribly sad.
One of my favorite quotes, from one of my favorite interviews ever, speaking about Infinite Jest:
And I don't think I really understood what loneliness was when I was a young man. And now I've got a much less clear idea of what the point of art is, but I think it's got something to do with loneliness and something to do with setting up a conversation between human beings. And I know that when I started this book I wanted-- I had very vague and not very ambitious...ambitions, and one was I wanted to do something really sad. I'd done comedy before, I wanted to do just something really sad and I wanted to do something about what was sad about America.
Which, among other things, means that: at least it didn't take me more than a year to finish this colossal series. Overall, an amazing set of books: hilariously funny, great characters, frustratingly slow at times, &c.—but overall so, so worth it, throughout & in the end.
And there's this passage that I really liked. I don't know why, exactly, because it's not exactly central to the story or anything—I just liked the way it sounded:
Therefore, go ye out into the Rumbo, the Spinning-Ken, to Old Nass, go to the Boozing-kens of Hockley-in-the-Hole and the Cases at the low end of the Mount, go to the Goat in Long-lane, the Dogg in Fleet Street, and the Black-boy in Newtenhouse-Lane, and drink—but not too much—and buy drinks—but never too many—for any flash culls you spy there, and acquire transitory knowledge, and return to my ken and relate to me what you have learnt.
From Neal Stephenson's The System of the World, p. 156