Friday, January 1, 2010

From Memory

Disregarding the reasons why (I don't feel like expelling on them, so you won't have to hear them), I upgraded my Kindle a couple of weeks back and sent the old one on to a welcome home with a friend. On both I have/had magazine subscriptions as well as books, including the following on the new one:

  • The New Yorker

  • Narrative

  • Shape

  • Women's Adventure

I have a bit of an advantage with the first one and a bit of a disadvantage with the first one. I know the layout of The New Yorker like the back of my hand, so even if the type looks the same on the Kindle from Talk of the Town to the Financial Page to the first article in the magazine, I can sort of gauge where I am, albeit blindly. The others I am just reading with no knowledge or understated pause from one section of prose to the next.

I have a history with The New Yorker that drifts back and forth over the line that you might call baggage. When I first moved to southwest Missouri I did so to become a writer without what I thought would be the corruption of college, and my home schooling involved going to a college library and reading the knowledge of the big three short fiction publishers: The Atlantic, Harper's, and The New Yorker. In my quest for great fiction I was hit by the crossfire of each magazine's articles as well, and I remember that after several attempts at trying to understand The New Yorker I gave up and stuck with the fiction--it seemed to be the only one of the three that I couldn't wrap my head around in anything but fiction. Somehow, though, once I actually bowed to the temptation of college and started classes at what is now Missouri State, I found my tastes shift from the regurgitated Harper's and the overtly dry Atlantic to the new understood and whimsical magazine that greats like White and Thurber and Keillor have shaped. I began following the contributors like they were my favorite ball club, complete with heavy hitters and cleaners-up. The artwork on every cover either made me smile or comforted me (for the comfort aspect I'm thinking of the black-on-black cover from the week after 9/11, despite its reverence), and it was wonderful to get to know the burroughs through the wanderings of what was happening about town.

The sections of a New Yorker offered natural breaks in the reading--Talk of the Town, break, Financial Page, break, Shouts and Murmers, break, each subsequent article (and each subsequent break), the reviews, and then go back through the pages that were softened with love and catch the poems and cartoons. You can't do that in the Kindle version--in fact, to the untrained eye there are no such sections anymore. The up side? No subscription cards and no magazine falling apart before I'm done with it. The down side? The adventure landscape is definitely flatter.

I'm hoping that this will give me a better chance to focus on the content, then.

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