Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Tantalus and the Kindle


Tantalus's punishment, now a proverbial term for temptation without satisfaction, was to stand in a pool of water beneath a fruit tree with low branches. Whenever he reached for the fruit, the branches raised his intended meal from his grasp. Whenever he bent down to get a drink, the water receded before he could get any.

When I imagine Tantalus standing in his pool of cool, clear water, it's azure.  And the fruit is ripe and perfect: red apples, amethyst grapes, sun-sweetened peaches.  But when he goes to eat or drink, not only do the branches evade his reach and the water soak away, but all the color leaches out of his world.  In other words, even the visual delight is denied him.

That's how I feel sometimes about my Kindle.  I love it, although not to the exclusion of bound books, but sometimes it feels like the reading equivalent of being tantalized.

I have tons of books on there, many (most?) unread.  But unlike my TBR shelves, I don't get the visual cues from my Kindle books as I do from paper.

Part of it is not having the cover art, although honestly that's not a pet peeve I choose to rant about.  Part of it is not being able to refer to the cover copy, although I do understand that I can access it as long as I'm in range of a wifi network.  (I don't have the 3G device.)

But most of it is the sheer grayness of what's on the Kindle.

I love the E-Ink technology, and I don't yearn for color in the visual display.

I yearn for color in the books themselves, in their words, their characters, their plots.  I want to start reading a book and lose myself in that author's world, see what she sees in depth and focus.  I want to taste all that yummy fruit, not chew on cardboard.

Recently, everything on the Kindle that I opened and started tasted like cardboard.  Finally someone recommended Shannon Stacey's Yours to Keep.  Not a perfect book, but cute, like a particularly lovely sundress on a pretty TV pitchwoman.  Definitely candy for the eyes -- the book, by the way, not the TV pitchwoman.

In Yours to Keep, Emma needs a guy to play her fiancé.  Actually, she's already cast the role -- she needs that specific guy, Sean Kowalski, to agree to a month-long run as the fake fiancé.  Her motives are pure, and conveniently, if implausibly, there's a sofa in her bedroom, so Sean figures yeah, okay, sure, why not.

Before long, they are sleeping together, but pretending not to be sleeping together for the benefit of those who knew that all along they're supposed to be pretending to be engaged (and pretending to be sleeping together) to keep her grandmother from worrying.  Only Gram isn't as stupid as she looks.  She sees through the entire charade immediately but figures she won't reveal that she knows so that Emma & her fake fiancé can explore the possibility that they're perfect for each other.

(My only quibble -- as someone already well into her fifties -- was the idea that Gram would be so retired at age 65.  Not been my experience of the people I know in their late sixties.  Oh, Gram was spry enough physically, but she seemed to think she was old.  And she wasn't.  That characterization of a 65-year-old told me a lot about how old Shannon Stacey might be...)

Look, it's an amuse-bouche of a book, but it's yummy and fluffy and perfect for a lazy summer read.  It will dissolve as fast as you read it.  It's cotton candy.  Best of all: it's pink, not gray.

1 comment:

  1. I like the eInk, but it reminds me of an etch-a-sketch.

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