Wednesday, January 30, 2013

I've gone to the Dark Side......

I love books.  I love everything about them - the way they feel, the way they smell. I love books autographed by my favorite authors. In the not so distant past I read 50-75 books a year. Now I freely admit these were not War & Peace or the like - I am a huge fan of mysteries, thrillers, science fiction and so on.  Give me a  Dana Stabenow, Les Roberts, Dave Barry - I've read and reread the Travis McGee series by the late, great John D McDonald.  Ditto the Spenser and Jesse Stone series by the late Robert B Parker.

You see - I firmly believe quality mystery fiction speaks to society and its quirks and foibles as well as the so-called classics or so called serious writers and they - the mysteries - are a helluva lot more entertaining. Plus, I live today.  Unless we're talking the ancient Rome of Marcus Didius Falco or Gordianus the Finder I'd typically rather read something more current.  Want to know what life in Alaska is like?? Pick up a Kate Shugak or Liam Campbell novel by Dana Stabenow.  Ditto Cleveland and Les Roberts.  Seattle???  Read a Thomas Black novel by Earl Emerson. My home turf - the SF Bay Area Grab a Nameless Detective novel by Bill Pronzini. Vermont???  Archer Mayor's Joe Gunther is your guide.

Alas - all of that came to a halt the last few years.  My wife Lynn is afflicted with Huntington's Disease.  I am her primary caretaker - and my other full-time job is writing product descriptions for the company I work for.  So - that's 2 full-time jobs.  I was still able to read a bit at night until the light became a trigger that sets Lynn off on one of her violent tirades. So - no light, no more reading.  Poor me. 

Now I mentioned my paying job - writing product descriptions.  I had occasion to write descriptions for several  eReaders - Kindles, Nooks and the like.  It's not like I was unaware of them - I've worked in the electronics industry for almost thirty years. I just never gave them much thought until this past Christmas season.  Something about the Kindle PaperWhite device caught my fancy while I was working on the Web content and I sprung for one.

Now of course you need some software - aka books - so I promptly acquired the latest two Dana Stabenow novels, the latest two Randy Wayne White Doc Ford novels, the latest two Les Roberts Milan Jacovich novels and sundry short stories along with the most recent Harry Dresden novel by Jim Butcher. 

The planets have realigned - the display on the Kindle adjusts to the point Lynn doesn't even notice.  I've read everything I purchased and am ready for another round of purchases after I finish the real book my friend Ramana sent me called The Wonder Box.  That make take a while as I have to sneak reading time - I cannot read it in two sittings (layings since I read in bed?) but I suspect there'll be another dozen or so titles on my Kindle within a couple of weeks.  I have some catching up to do and there's a new Preston/Child Pendergast novel calling my name. I bet there're even some Joe Leaphorn/Jim Chee novels available on Kindle.

My pal Bob - aka Arch - is understanding yet somewhat aghast.  Nothing will ever get him to read an eBook.  Just not in his makeup.  He does knows my circumstances call for what can only be deemed desperate measures.  He's an even more voracious reader than I.  Years ago we met Earl Emerson at a bookstore in Dallas and Arch was quoting dialogue from the very first book in the Thomas Black series word for word.   Emerson was astonished - and I'm sure quite pleased - LOL.

The bottom line is I have recovered a piece of what keeps me sane.  As Lynn's condition will only worsen over time, I still have my literary friends through whom I can live vicariously. I look forward to the evenings once again.


  1. I also have a Kindle, despite thinking I would never give in to them. I actually LOVE It! I love reading classics, and classics are mostly free. I have often had to drive people to the doctor, or other appointments, and my kindle has saved my sanity while I wait in the waiting room! We did buy a Kindle fire, but I didn't like it as much. I still love real books, but my Kindle is the next best thing. :)

  2. Your road is tough enough without the loss of something you love to do, Shackman. I felt relieved when you found a solution to your problem.
    Blessings and Happy Reading ~ Maxi

  3. The love of books you and I share, Shackman. And yes, like you, I count my books among my friends.

    You recently mentioned your wife's HD and - intriguingly - your children's reluctance to have the test to see whether they may have inherited the unfortunate gene. I have only ever known one woman afflicted. She was lovely, kind, gentle. I met her when she was in her early Thirties, freshly diagnosed, newly married. She was terrified of the future and for her there was no question over having children or not. The answer was a firm no.

    Back to your reading at night. I am a very practical person. As such the first question, and I hope this is not insensitive, that came to my mind when learning how your reading habits were afflicted:: Why do couples feel the need to always share a bedroom? I think it a great pity that that should be so. We all go through stages in life when the last thing you need is to worry about your partner's sleep. One example coming to mind: When breastfeeding every two and a half hour round the clock it seemed kinder to my tremendously hard working then-husband and father of what amounts to 21 and a half years of delight (that's my son) to find another bed. Far more relaxing for all concerned. Still, I am probably talking rubbish here because I have no idea what it's like to 'care' for someone infirm and maybe you need to be at hand at all times, even if only to reassure your wife that you are (physically) there. Anyway, lost my thread now. Start off with one line of thought, only to be side tracked by another.

    Your reasoning of the merit of a Kindle is probably the first where I can only nod and say: Yes. Good for you. I dare say Kindles do not 'smell' (it can only be a question of time) and presumably THEY 'feel' nothing.

    There you go, Shackman. I wanted to give you some comfort instead of which I probably poured cold water. Or forgot to put my wellies on before walking into a puddle.


  4. U - I enjoy your musings be they critical or supportive. In this one you asked a simple and fair question. Nothing insensitive at all.

    The reply is twofold - we live in a 3 bedroom 2 bath house. The residents include Lynn, me, daughter Jamie, her 2 teenage daughters and her 3 year old son. So there's not a free bedroom.

    Secondly, in the last 5-6 years Lynn simply has a meltdown if I am not in the bedroom at night - plus, she has a tendency to stand up on the bed (king size) and is apt to take a header one of these times. That's the condensed version - but I think you get my drift. Basically I need to be there to monitor her - I actally sleep very little any more and sleep very lightly when I do.

    Regarding your comment on having kids - as I said on Fos's recent blog - I'm not sure what I would have done had we known Lynn had HD when we were married. The accurate test was not developed until the early nineties. Lynn was tested in the eighties when her uncle passed away from HD. That result was negative. In 1972 when we got married HD was never mentioned by her family.Changes in Lynn were noticed by our doctor and so she was tested again in 2002 and found to have HD. The rest has been the equivalent of a snowball rolling rapidly downhill.

    There's more to the story but that's the short version.