One of the aspects I enjoy most in the Rust is the ongoing debate of attendance v watching on tv a sporting event. As an WBA supporter I don’t get to many games but that does mean I have no cred as for geographical, financial, and logistical reasons it’s not that easy. Over in the arts section we like to devise our own topics for discussion and one came up over a dinner with some of our literati last week.
We were discussing an American author the late James Salter. His name might be unfamiliar to you. He did not have a prodigious output, he went 30 years without a novel. He writes beautifully but criticism has been made of a lack of driving plot. We were discussing one of his novels Light Years which I read by audio book. Kindle v book is much debated. I can see the advantages of both: the Kindle is much easier to transport, quick to download, you can carry a whole library in your pocket. The book is a more touching gift, a library to dip into a feature of the home and certain books – like those on artists with illustrations – much better in bigger form. I mentioned that now you can download a book which is both audio and text and switch between the two. In the past audio books were abridged, now you receive every word. Sometimes I wake in the night and I would listen to Light Years, the quality of the prose in the stillness of the night was an almost magical experience. Another present commented that he listened to the Hemry James novel Portrait of A Lady on a car journey and both he and his companion could appreciate it together. I have always found him a daunting novelist for the density of his prose so this may be better way of enjoying and appreciating him.
Stories were originally meant to be told not read. If you go to El Fna square in Marrakech you can see and hear the story tellers with their audience agog. The BBC have at least 2 books being read every day on Radio 4. Adam Sisman, a distinguished biographer has just produced a master work on John Le Carre. Some might find its length too daunting and enjoyed its serialisation last week. Biography, its accuracy, objectivity, cooperation with and influence of subject is another topic for discussion. I won’t go there now but I will conclude this argument by advocating audio reading which is practical, less demanding and often more entertaining way of appreciating a book.