Another new toy!

I know I like to insist that I am a Luddite and don’t get too into new technology just to have the latest toy, but Amazon’s Kindle just caught my fancy. I’d seen the things around with people reading them on the train. My crazy aunt has one and swears by it (which was a disincentive). Then, a colleague had one in court one day and started explaining the virtues of the kindle: the fact that you can read in court being a really big point.

The concept that I could walk around with a library definitely caught my attention: especially given how I like books and music. This thing means I can have all my music on an iPod and a library with me as well!

There are loads of public domain (free) books to download. I downloaded loads of Scottish and Irish Books so that it looks as if the owner is Irish or Celtic type.

I paid for Flann O’Brien’s (Who I just figured out has a birthday the day after mine) At Swim Two Birds for two reasons: (1) Brendan Gleeson is trying to make a film of the book and (2) I’d like to reread the book. Flann (or whatever his name is) is one of my fav writers. I find that the kindle is actually the best way to read his material as well. First off, the Kindle has voice recognition and can read to you (this book is best listened to). Secondly, the Kindle allows for you to do research and jump between books (unfortunately, Flann’s other works: The Third Policeman, The Dalkey Archive, and An Béal Bocht are not available on the kindle and At Swim Two Birds is only available outside the US on the Kindle).

So, it sort of helps to have read O’Brien’s other works since he refers to his other books (at least the Third Policeman and The Dalkey Archive) in At Swim Two Birds. Not to mention the references to Irish mythology, which a quick jump to my Kindle’s Lady Gregory collection to refresh my memory.

The really fun bit is that I now have the education to appreciate O’Brien’s work having studied Medieval Irish and read all his known works. I did all that between the time I first read At Swim Two Birds 32 years ago and now. Still, it’s nice to be able to jump between all this material.

Which gets to my next point, I have to admit it will be fun seeing the film of At Swim Two Birds if it ever comes out. It seems that Gleeson is having problems with funding due to economic hard time and the Irish Film Board is running out of money. On the other hand, maybe Gleeson should consider people’s funding: I’d gladly donate a small amount to this project and would hope other O’Brien fans would as well.

The interesting thing is that this book is highly subjective and requires quite a bit of imagination and patience. As one reviewer described it:

If you try to read it too closely, the structure of this book will drive you crazy. Ask me how I know. On the first level, it seems to emanate from the addled mind of a navel-gazing Irish university student stumbling around thinking about writing a book or a school paper. As I said, you can go nuts trying to follow it. Yet At Swim-Two-Birds is a modernist masterpiece, the best-known fictional work of Irish newspaper writer Flann O’Brien. Published in 1939, the book’s great charm is O’Brien’s constant reinvention of the English language, fueled and altered by an Irish sensibility and language; the sentences come out in a torrent of musical, drunken ramblings.

or as another reviewer put it:

Be warned. This is not a book for the lover of Jane Austen romance or a Dickens narrative. Rather, it demands parallels with the likes of Sterne for its sheer structural trickery – (imagine, if you will, the author who writes about an author who writes about an author whose characters revolt against his authorship, in taking over the narrative for themselves), -parallels with Beckett in the subversion of continuity and chronology of plot, and the frustrating of plot development with obsessive attention to mudane detail; parallels with Joyce in respect of the inclusion of historical classicism, here in the shape of the heroes of old Ireland, not least the mad king Sweeney whose inclusion in one of the fleeting strands of narrative rather tenuously povides the title for the novel itself.

I can’t wait to see the film!

Anyway, this was a book that was meant for the kindle!

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