I have finally joined the ranks of those with an eReader.
Yes, I know I am slow at adapting to the latest technologies, but I have some sound reasons. The main reason was a reluctance to buy any more books. I have many piles of unread books and magazines cluttering various parts of the house. I have been trying hard to get on top of these heaps of reading materials, but the list seems never ending. One day I will overcome this problem – I guess – though it has the benefit of never having to look far for something to read. (You are probably thinking that my house is a very untidy mess of books and magazines. Wrong. It is a quite tidy mess of books and magazines.)
But back to the eReader.
It was a freebie from my bank’s awards’ programme, a Kobo Aura. It was very easy to set up, and even easier to buy books. (Too easy, as my wife has discovered.)
My first book was The girl with the dragon tattoo, one I had been planning to read for some time. The reader is very easy to use and especially easy to read in bed. I recently read Peter Fitzsimons’ huge 800+ page tome called Gallipoli. I managed to read it partly in bed, but it was not really ever comfortable.
I won’t do a review of my first book just yet. I did find it a riveting tale and read it in only a few days. All I will say for now is that despite the compelling draw of the story I did not particularly enjoy the book. Sadism is not my thing, and several characters in the book are brutally sadistic in nature.
From that interesting read I have moved on to a second ebook, The Kite Runner. So far I am enjoying it.
I must confess that I read quite a few poems in the passage of each year. I subscribe to and read a number of literary journals and occasionally buy volumes of poetry, especially new releases from poets I respect or have grown to love; for example, I ordered a new volume of Valerie Volk’s poems yesterday. I also borrow books of poetry from my local library from time to time, usually as the mood moves me.
I also write a moderate amount of poetry in the course of a year. I have never counted the poems I have written but a list must run to many hundreds, maybe 500 – 600 or so over the last 50+ years. I started writing poetry at high school. During that time I have also had many dozens of poems published in a wide variety of journals, magazines other places. As well I have on occasion been asked to perform my poems in public. I have self-published nearly a hundred of my haiku and poems on this site here. Several of my poems have won awards too.
Over the years I have written some reviews of books I have read, but rarely have I reviewed poems or books of poetry. This morning I was alerted to a major critique of the state of reviewing and critiquing poetry at present in the Australian scene. In his article “The Poet Tasters” Ben Etherington reviews the state of literary criticism of the current and recent crop of books of poetry, and finds them sadly deficient. He compares them to the lofty heights of general literary criticism – mainly novels.
The poetry critic is a different creature, evolved within a different ecosystem, whose resemblance to most critics of fiction is not much closer than honeyeaters to chickens.
The problem, as I see it, and as Etherington points out, is the result of economics. It is well known that a handful of novelists in Australia can make a modest living from their craft, but poets generally are their poorer cousins – much, much poorer.
The art form subsists in an economy of university posts, writing courses, postgraduate scholarships, literary prizes, government grants, fellowships, philanthropy and, above all, self-funding.
In the article he goes on the critique the critics, quoting extensively from a representative sample of them and concludes that the critics are far too effusive in their praise, and far too lacking in deep, incisive criticism. I confess that I too usually fall into this trap when reviewing, preferring to err on the side of praise than appear to be too harsh. I can think of only one exception where I was quite blunt and in direct opposition to the vast chorus of praises heaped upon the novel The Slap which I found written in a lazy and offensive manner.
Over coming months I do intend reviewing – and even critiquing – a number of volumes of poetry I have read in recent times. I must remember to not just end up praising the works but also digging a little deeper.
Here we go again – I am writing, writing, writing… after a long break.
I haven’t posted any new material here in over 3 months, and not on a regular basis for over a year. I hope that 2015 is different and that the words – and the posts – will flow freely again. Thanks to all of my devoted readers who haven’t deserted me. I have great things planned for this site as well as my other sites (click Trevor’s Birding and Trevor’s Travels.)
The reason for a lack of posting on this (and my other sites) is that I have had a few serious issues with my health. Most of these have been dealt with, or will be in the coming weeks. One of the major issues has been dealing with severe sleep apnoea. Before I had a CPAP machine to help me sleep I was constantly falling asleep in front of my computer screen. Reading was also very difficult; every time I picked up a book or magazine I would blink – and not open my eyes for 5 or more minutes. I am now getting a good night’s sleep every night and devouring books from my unread piles at a great rate. I am no longer falling asleep at the computer, so the words are flowing again.
In the coming months I have some interesting plans for this site – and the other sites too – as well as some important news to announce. This includes plenty of writing advice, examples of my poetry and fiction and the publication of my first ebooks and perhaps even a few pbooks (paper books) – I can dream can’t I? Stay tuned.
In recent months I have done some writing as my health issues have allowed. Most of this writing has appeared on yet another site I manage. You can read this site here and any articles with TH at the end were written by me. Many more articles will appear there in the coming months.
Good writing – and reading.
“So many books, so little time.” Frank Zappa
I have so many books that my home is almost in dire need of more bookshelves. I have at least a dozen bookshelves, and still I need to make piles of them in most rooms. I keep on buying more and borrowing even more, and the piles never seem to diminish.
So, this year I have decided to make a concerted effort to reduce those piles and get to reading – and finishing – as many as possible. The delightful thing is, I will need to read, read, read for the next three to five years to make any impact on those ever growing heaps of books.
It has been suggested that I sell some of my books. That would be like plucking out my eyes. Not an option.
Oh – did I mention the boxes of books in the passage – and even more in the garage?
I am currently reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society written by Mary Ann Shaffer. I borrowed it from my daughter more than a year ago and have just managed to squeeze it into my very demanding reading schedule. Actually, I have been wanting to read it for some time. It took a little while for me to warm to the format – a series of letters written from the various characters to other characters in the story – but once into it about 30 or 40 pages it really grabbed me. The letters range from a sentence or two through to many pages, recounting the lives and experiences of the eclectic gathering of characters who experienced the German occupation of the Channel Islands during WW2 as well as a few in London during the same time. It’s an absorbing insight into the lives of ordinary folk in extraordinary circumstances.
The letters have set me to thinking. In these post-modern times we appear to have lost the gentle art of letter writing. In an age where many people are writing more than ever before – emails, Tweets, blogs, Facebook status updates – we rarely take the time to actually take pen to paper and physically write a letter. Even the birthday cards are quickly scrawled messages and our Christmas cards have a quick message plus often a chest-beating, look-at-my-family typed and printed in gaudy colours newsletter.
This is a great pity.
There is something wonderful about receiving a hand written letter from a friend or family member, especially those living in remote places from our normal circle of activity. The effort taken to actually take the time to hand write a letter is considerable in these instant times. And then to Snail Mail it? Well, that could take days to arrive – or more. How many homes actually have a supply of postage stamps any more? Or writing paper and envelopes for that matter. I also despair at the trend in our schools to no longer teach physical handwriting skills. I foresee a generation developing who cannot put pen to paper, let alone actually write a letter. Our language will suffer and drown under an ocean of SMS messages and Tweets and degenerate into a series of communicative grunts.
I think I’ll go and write a letter to my brother – but first – I’ll just Tweet about it.