Anakana Schofield – Author of Martin John and Malarky

Anakana Schofield: Mobile Reading

My third blog as guest editor this week of the Afterword, the National Post books blog. (Click on text to read the entire piece)

Many of us visit places in literature that we may never set foot in. I have a strange habit of visiting literature as I set my foot down. Walking and reading. Initially I had some problems with my inner ear and was advised to repeatedly do the things that made me dizzy in order to retrain my brain.

I was an occasional walker and reader, however with this inner ear problem it now made me dizzy, thus I took up long walks with a book in hand and copious amounts of vacuuming (which also made me dizzy).

Once my inner ear generously righted itself, I found another handy employment for the combined art of walking and reading. I did not own a car and had a small child to move around. The bus routes did not always suit us, nor did the shelling out for transit. He loved stories and I knew I could easily walk him five or ten or thirty blocks without protest if I read to him. Hence we crossed Vancouver neighbourhoods to the dulcet tones of six of Arthur Ransome’s sailing novels and hiked up and down to the park reading every volume of Le Petit Nicolas.

 

Readings: mobile, static and inbetween

A couple of days of most engaging reading. My mobile reading (done usually when walking, exercising or during any pause of the day) is a reread of Lawrence’s The Rainbow on my phone. I love reading ebooks. I like the palm sized paragraphs, that I digest one at a time and I like the physicality of the finger sweep — almost a bit like conducting and the rhythm it establishes.

My more static reading, a large thick hard back, is curiously currently about a motorway the M25. London Orbital by Iain Sinclair.

I have a bunch of inbetween readings that are forming a dérive.

All three types of reading are inter-informed by other texts that I’ve previously or recently read that form their own questions as I read this current crop. (Imagine a bowling alley, the questions come down the lanes usually aiming at one current text) In essence the past reading is poking through the current reading and saying hey come back here a minute and consider or come here to me a minute I want to show you something.

I maintain that ebooks are giving us new ways of reading and new ways of thinking about reading. I do not agree with Jonathan Franzen’s recent drone on the topic. Indeed I think the only thing I agree with Franzen on may be birds and I wonder what the birds make of him (and us). My friend Leannej has some indications in her Birds Hate Us — An exploration of birds in a time of Avian paranoia amongst other things.

Leanne taught me to can this summer and it was the most useful thing I learned all year, the Japanese handsaw tutorials from Peter came in a very close second it must be said.

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Today I had some very fortunate experiences with very well mannered and helpful people. It reminded me how intolerable bad manners are and that people who deliberately practice them, often as a bloodsport, should not be indulged. Artists can sometimes be very bad mannered and consciously so, perhaps they imagine it gives them an edge, a certain cache. It doesn’t. One merely ends up visualizing a granny behind them, shaking her head, disgusted. It strikes me if you cannot treat people with dignity, it’s likely that you have no dignity yourself and should probably pause to figure out why.

I have been having a number of adventures in ereading. I’ve held a long curiosity for web books and found myself thinking about how such might be employed when considering narrative ideas. I read a fair bit online, usually factual, anthropology, political, or some writers I’ve read exclusively online because their work can be hard to obtain or because my appetite for it will not wait until I can find a hard copy. And webcomics I’ve often enjoyed.

The reading is normally in intense bursts of middling duration. Rarely have I attempted to digest an entire 300 page text. Last night I did just that and the experience was a middling one. The book concerned contained images and I skipped rapidly through them. The text wasn’t too bad on the eyes, it was friendly enough (the content is another story), but I read it at a galloping pace which satisfied me. How and ever, I was disappointed by how little the images did for me that I declared it over to the ceiling for me and digitized images in books.

Today I tried the BC online books initiative through the Vancouver Public Library (available here if you hold a VPL library card http://www.vpl.ca/electronic_databases/cat/C88

I examined several titles. Initially the BC online books beta reader gave me trouble, I could not understand how to turn the pages with any ease and efficiency, however once I established an account and downloaded the library ereader plugin, matters improved. The reader interface is fairly basic, but critically the quality of the print improved & the images were decent in comparison to yesterday’s experience during which I was ready to write off all images via ebooks.

The volume of information and access to 650 titles blows my head off my shoulders and around the room. However it returns to land when I consider that it is so uncomfortable for me to experience books on a laptop I might only manage a few chapters ….

I am now dead curious to try an ereading handheld device and see how it compares.

It concerns me, the strain on the eyes. My vision is now at the point where I can’t read information on jars and medicines. I have to put my glasses on. It’s certainly diminished compared to what it was. It was always good enough to get away without glasses despite being given them.

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It’s a long time since I ran on pavement or grass. Yesterday time did not permit to do anything else and I was desperate for some exercise. God it is so difficult and hard on the joints, I’d forgotten. Also, how one experiences the damp whiff off fungus, trees and so on. I could not understand why it was so much more uncomfortable to run on what are normal everyday circumstances compared to the much more unnatural heave of an airborne ski shifting machine …. It was also cold. I ran in a thermal shirt with 2 further layers, despite two laps of a significant sized track (6 city blocks at least) I did not warm up!  But it was a great observational experience.

After the run, there were birthday’s to attend to and we had a visit from our favourite babog who has a sense of humour I’ve rarely encountered previously in a seven-month-old. He adores my son and lets this be constantly known by turning his head, seeking him out and letting out constant laughter at the sight or sound of him.  It’s currently one of my favourite soundtracks — the dotey dote that he is.

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I am receiving constant and diverse weather reports. Shocking weather events taking place across the pond. The water was turned off in Dublin and other places from 7pm -7am to deal with shortages. My poor mam has no water at all. (only her well water requiring an icy trek ) She said it was so cold that the gas inside the cylinder, inside the house froze! She’s still chirpy in spite of it.