• Bridge Ladies

    Bridge Ladies When I set out to learn about my mother's bridge club, the Jewish octogenarians behind the matching outfits and accessories, I never expected to fall in love with them. This is the story of the ladies, their game, their gen, and the ragged path that led me back to my mother.
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they think that I’ve got no respect but everything means less than zero.

Okay, so not only am I not pulling down bank, I had to pay $10.81 for internet access tonight from the fabulous Doubletree to post what might be the most explosive blog ever ripped from the annals of agenting. So I’m walking my dog this morning and I run into a vague acquaintance who stops to chat, and leads with: so are books dead? Friends, remember, I was walking my dog. I had a plastic bag filled with warm shit. In other words, I was armed and dangerous. Are books dead? Bernard Malamud said book will be dead when the penis is dead.

Am I paraphrasing? I saw three people reading on Kindles on the subway today. I was desperate to know what they were reading, so I got over my shy-on and asked. One was reading Tolstoy, one reading Chekov, and one reading Dusty. What is the likelihood of that???  Tonight, I taught a class at Hunter and one of the attendees said she was reading my book Kindle. That gave me wood; c’est vrai. I am, again, not myself. THe other night, a commenter said that someone must have taught me to hate myself. Love, it was a master class.  And the thing is, it’s boring. I’m tired of it, it’s a default position, the air that I breathe. On the other hand, I’m so damn good at it.  Also, closed a sweet deal today. Not dead yet.

43 Responses

  1. How wear it well, Betsy. Even with a bag o’ warm shit in your hand.

  2. Remember when VCR’s and then DVD’s came out and everybody said no one would ever go to the movies again? We need what we know. We are tactile. My Kindle pals are starting to complain. I’m a corner folder. Too bad for them. This too shall (sort of) pass. And meanwhile, you do know that dog shit is meant to be lit on fire and left on door stoops, right?

  3. I want to kiss that dog with the heart-shaped nose.

  4. I was riding the NYC subway the other day, too. In fact, I saw three women that could easily have been you. Of course, I knew they weren’t but I couldn’t help but to smile anyway.

    I”m happy to report that it was an even draw between books and kindles. Newspapers were actually the winner, The New York Times finishing first. When I was in high school, we were all taught how to fold The New York Times properly, so that we didn’t interfere with other people’s commute.

    • I love newspapers, but it’s the one thing I have to do electronically. Expose me to page snappers and flippers and I can barely breath.

  5. I’m less worried that the book is dead and more concerned that people are unwilling to pay for anything they read on a digital device. Tolstoy and Chekov? Free or part of a large download package?

    I know people hate the NY Times for their pay wall, but as someone who makes a living (barely) writing, I’m all for people paying for things they read on the internet. And I happily would’ve put up with ads on this site, Betsy. Readers think you’re too good for that? What? Too good to write great, comment-inspiring blog post every day for free?

    Cory Doctorow and all his millions be damned. Not all of us can make a living giving it away for free.

  6. Books, dunno.Stories, yes Here’s to blogs, dogs and shit.

  7. My worst librarian nightmare—the one that doesn’t involve fire or having my skull smashed with a brick for blocking a porn-viewer’s computer access— is to be forced to work in a paperfree library kiosk in the megamall.

    I read eBooks myself, and enjoy them, but I’m not convinced of their souls, yet. I have no idea why it might take the death of vegetation (in this age) to imbue a book with soul, but I never claimed to be reasonable.

    • “…not convinced of their souls yet”

      That’s it! You can’t flip back and forth. You can’t see someone’s expression on a train and decide to purchase the book because you want to read what gave them that expression. You can’t put your coffee to rest on a Kindle, nor pass it to your partner to read because they have to read that passage right now, this very minute. Yes, I have a Kindle. I have read two books on there. It drove me mad.

      Are books dead? No, for the love of god. I swear, I am starting to wonder if the whole thing isn’t a marketimg campaign that Amazon and Google concocted, and we fell for. Please sir, may I have another?

    • A paper-free library kiosk in the megamall. This would surely be the apocolypse — and the visual reminds me of Margaret Atwood’s latest couple of books.

  8. As long as there are words there will be writers. Some will have penises. The best ones, regardless of gender, will have balls.

  9. Good at what you do and well-armed, you’re clearly not a girl who misses much.

  10. Here’s a great website that answers the question “Is the book dead?” http://isthebookdead.com/

  11. “Not dead yet.” Thank you, Monty Python.

  12. Is it just my Irish eyes, or is the dog wearing a four leaf clover?

    Great post Betsy. Armed and dangerous -very good.

    No books aren’t dead. The Kindle is just another way to read them. I have a Kindle – it’s fine and dandy and was great for a recent holiday, but I still prefer books.

  13. The book is not dead. Even old books are not dead. I know this because yesterday I opened the mail to see that my husband had ordered a couple of gifts for me: First Editions of The Kiss and Paris Trout, wrapped in that awesome plastic stuff that keeps anything bad from happening to them. Dead? No fucking way.

    If people want to read on a Kindle, good for them I say. It’s got to sell more books, right? That whole instant-gratification thing. I have the iPad AND the books. I feel like Richie Rich, the library version.

    P.S. I almost couldn’t even read this post as I was blinded by the cuteness of that dog. Which reminds me …. the best dog book I’ve read is Dog Years by Mark Doty.

    • Oh but, Teri, e-books are dirt cheap. Most of the money you spend on a real book is not going for the paper and the binding, but for editing, publicity, design, etc., a little royalty if you’re lucky. That money’s not coming in when people are staring at a little box instead of turning pages.

      • You can see I have no clue about the business end of e-books. I figured the author gets the same $, or close, per unit …

  14. Yes, boring and exhausting to hate yourself, like trying to fit in with the cool kids or pretending you’ve read/seen/experienced something you haven’t.

    Best gift of middle age: you stop caring so much what other people think–or at least it stops trumping what you yourself think–and you can remove all that weight from your back. Instead of being devastated when someone you don’t even care for slights you, you can reach outward toward people you like.

    Must be the new meditation talking.

  15. I’d rather worry about nuclear bombs. I grew up worrying about nuclear bombs. I know how to do that. And they have been known to kill people. Whereas I have yet to read (on my computer screen or even in print) about an e-book killing anyone.

    Seems to me I read somewhere not long ago that the NYTBR receives hundreds of books every month for potential review. My guess is that tens of thousands of them are published every year, in the United States alone.

    Most days when I work my midtown Manhattan freelance job, I count printed books, e-readers, and tablets on the AM subway and post the tally in my Twitter feed. Usually the printed books take the lead. And it’s clear that people are still reading SOMEthing.

    Nudge me in a few years and I’ll check on this book situation again. Meanwhile, the moaning is keeping me awake.

  16. This must be the week for vague acquaintances to test the patience of people who are not amused with stupidity. At least this person did not call you in the dead of the night… ah, but I digress.

    Some time ago, Richard Nash posted an interesting commentary on the ebook issue by comparing it to the mayhem that almost destroyed the music industry. There’s lots to be learned from their turmoils. However, I’d like to think there is room for multiple methods of publishing.

    In the spirit of acknowledging I live in the 21st Cent., I tried following my local newspaper on-line for one month. Drove me crazy – especially the little pop-up windows that want my email address so they could track what I was reading. And the morning annoyance of dragging my plate of toast to the computer (I will not set a lap top on the table where a meal is served!) added to my displeasure. I almost wept when I re-upped for a to-the-front-door-delivery of the (paper) newspaper.

    Finally, as an interior designer-by-day job, I can vouch that my ONLY client without books travels constantly and relies on her kindle rather than pack a separate suitcase with reading material. The rest hoard books and have the kindles, nooks, et.al. simply because they can afford them.

  17. Isn’t it possible that, just maybe, the Kindle will allow people to actually read more? I have over 110 books now on mine and I’m planning to stuff it until it bursts. Where the hell would I store so many books?

    • Hire me. My latest book-aholic client has over 5000 books. We are designing 2 library rooms in their house along with clever shelving built everywhere but in the shower.

      • Karen,
        I think I love you.

      • Lyra – much appreciated! May I blurb you on my next design proposal?

      • You are my dream designer… this from a woman with a library built around her dining room.

      • Teri: the library-dining room is my favorite design challenge. It symbolizes nourishment and community on all levels.

      • Karen, I would propose that everyone have a library around the dining table. It makes for a cozy, noise-dampening space, and sparks the most interesting dinner conversation. It’s always interesting to see people get sparked by which categories of books: Fiction, Politics, History, the Holocaust, Poetry, Classics, First Editions, Memoir, Sports. Something for everyone.

  18. It gives me great comfort to have all of western literature published before 1923 on my kindle. I have never had to rely on that comfort, but it’s there if I, say, really want to re-read the end of A Tale of Two Cities to give myself a little “all’s right in the world” charge when I’m waiting in line at the DMV. Plus, I like reading big books on the kindle because I hate the way big books get grimy and wrinkled and wrecked when I drag them back and forth to work on the train. Everything else, I read on paper (including THE paper), unless I’m going around the world in 80 days, in which case I’ll bring my kindle with.

  19. a story is a story is a story. no matter the vehicle.

  20. Self loathing loses its allure after awhile. I found peace in traveling to the edge of the earth where there is no other choice but to ask is there something more or not? Walking through forests so quiet a tree falling will not be heard. Being completely alone and not afraid. It may have been the first time I’ve ever truly heard my own voice uninterrupted by the psycho babble of day to day living. I highly recommend it.

    • I know that makes no sense. Trying to work through all the neighbors’ lawn services this morning. I can barely think. Heaven forbid I open a window. Next, the chemical guys will be pulling up to kill the bees and little bunnies over the horror of a dandelion.

      • I miss the open window experience- today’s heat & humidity would literally keep me stuck to my paperwork. So, I’m resigned to just looking out the window for now.

  21. OK, this is twice this week you said you’re not you. Someone’s been posting (good) shit on this blog, and it still sounds like you… Hello? On a brighter note, Ann Arbor is lovely this time of year.

  22. if you’re not you, who are you?

  23. My new guideline( that I am trying to follow) is ‘a book in, a book out.’ There IS such a thing as too many and they have a nice bookcase for them in the library lobby. But I just bought a 1920 printing of The Mill on the Floss, which I may or may not read, (it’s about a parsonage?) for $39 and shipping cuz it’s beautiful.

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