Things you can’t do with a Kindle ebook: “You can’t turn down a corner, tuck a flap in a chapter, crack a spine or flick the pages to see how far you have come and how far you have to go. You can’t remember something potent and find it again with reference to where it appeared on a right- or left-hand page. And you can’t pass it on to a friend or post it through your neighbour’s door.”

You can, of course, do all this and more with a printed book. Perhaps print’s resurgence and the Kindle’s relative decline is due to the public’s belated realisation of this fact. As Umberto Eco puts it, “the book is like the spoon, scissors, the hammer, the wheel. Once invented, it cannot be improved.”

Sometimes atheists with access to food, sex and libraries become religious in adulthood. All such persons are mentally unstable. Take Patricia Lockwood’s father:

He converted when he was working as a naval seaman, serving on a nuclear submarine, and the family legend is that it was due to multiple underwater screenings of The Exorcist: “that eerie, pea-soup light was pouring down, and all around him men in sailor suits were getting the bejesus scared out of them, and the bejesus flew into my father like a dart into a bull’s eye”. […] In due time, he made his terrorised children watch The Exorcist as a “tender rite of passage”: “My father attempted to mute the line ‘Your mother sucks cocks in hell!’ but hit the wrong button on the remote and actually ended up blasting it at maximum volume.”

Mark Krotov: “In 1995, Diesel wrote and directed a short film called Multi-Facial, in which he plays a struggling New York actor who tries on different races and ethnicities for each of his auditions. He’s too intense for the Italian-American role, too light-skinned to read for the black one. When he’s asked to read for a Latino character, he screws up because he doesn’t speak Spanish. He finally nails an audition for a black character, but the casting directors tell him that they’re looking for someone with dreadlocks.”

Chinelo Okparanta, Dinaw Mengestu and Yaa Gyasi are on Granta’s list of the most promising American authors under 40.


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