One more advantage of paper books. Once upon a time before e-book readers, on an upcountry excursion in Burma, I was smitten with acute diarrhea in a land without toilet paper. But I was equipped with a fat paperback on Chinese history and politics. Over the next few days an assortment of conveyances jounced me along back-country roads as I attempted to learn about China fast enough to stay ahead of immediate needs for paper. I never did get to finish that book, but I sure was glad it was a lengthy bugger. (Though this was in a time before e-book readers, the story presents evidence for one more advantage of paper books over their digital counterparts.)
Artful entertainment at length. At 1,100 pages, David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest might appear even more suited to such journeys. But it resists reading at a pace that exceeds Burma Belly in full sprint. For sure it’s no print version of TV, no nicely narcotic diversion from life proper.
Infinite Jest demands attention and real engagement. Dare we say it’s art, rather than mere entertainment? Nevertheless, this book is certainly entertaining; in fact, it’s one of the funniest books I’ve ever read. It’s also science fiction, of sorts, though it doesn’t fall into any genre I recognize.
Tomorrow, sometime soon, whenever, I’ll use Infinite Jest to kick off a short discourse on “good writing style.” Good blogging style, meanwhile, suggests I should cease and desist for now, properly respectful of contemporary attention spans, besides which distractions of every digital species summon me away to other matters.