A Kindle tragedy

Oh no.

Setting my new Christmas Kindle atop the mound of books on the nightstand beside my bed last night precipitated an avalanche. Books and Kindle took a tumble onto the hardwood floor.

The books, of course, were fine. None the worse for wear. But this morning when I launched my Kindle, something was very wrong indeed. The screensaver image—a bird, some warbler or meadowlark gripping a reed—stayed pasted over half the screen.

I’d been deeply engrossed in Jonathan Franzen’s amazing blockbuster novel Freedom, careening through the book’s last act like an overloaded West Virginia coal truck with cooked brakes. And thanks to my Kindle’s Progress Bar, or whatever it’s called, I knew last night when I paused for sleep that I ‘d reached “89 %.”

Not anymore. The coal truck crashed. I called Amazon, and for a small fee (not so small, actually, but Kathy’s reading my blog so I’m gonna be vague) they’re rushing me a new device and I’m sending mine back to the Kindle mothership.

I’m going to refrain from pointing out, again, that a thirty-inch drop left real books unfazed but left me holding my Kindle in a painful state of reading interruptus. After all, I’m lovin’ my ereader, especially while riding an exercise bike, and feeling so thoroughly modern at last.

Oh, Kindle, I hardly knew you!

This reminds me of my Computer Incident two summers ago just after I’d finally, proudly, migrated to a laptop. In that case it was the dog’s fault for knocking my Mac off my bed onto the hardwood and breaking the motherboard. Though, as with any disaster worth the dignity of that name, multiple factors were involved. As one of the great characters in Freedom says in her memoir, Mistakes Were Made. (What happened in the case of Jack vs. the Mac is fascinating only to me and my family, but too tedious to relate here, even for me.)

This time it was a pile of books, destabilized by a slender paperback, Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy—really—that was the proximate cause. And my latest new Kindle is going to take care of that problem. Right.


Filed under MY LIFE, reading

21 responses to “A Kindle tragedy

  1. Scribbly Jane

    Sorry for your trauma Richard. Your “reader interruptus” reminds me of the feeling I get when I’m stuck waiting somewhere and wishing I’d brought my book!

    We gave my Mom a Kindle for Christmas (on her wish list) and she returned it. “Just isn’t my thing after all,” she said. Still, I’m tempted to go for the iPad.

    • Well, electronic devices can be useful and often function as toys—or, in my case, strangely, as self image enhancers. (Though, now that I think of it, I’d rather be seen reading Freedom than its anonymous electronic version.) So go for that iPad, Beth. Just don’t drop it!

  2. Dela

    I think it’s more a case of fate trying to tell you to stick with books. I am totally against Kindles as i love a “real” book. Don’t hate me too much when i say, i smiled at the thought of your Kindle crashing to the floor (sorry!!) 😉

  3. “careening through the book’s last act like an overloaded West Virginia coal truck with cooked brakes”= just hilarious, best metaphor of the day.


    • Thanks, Mary, it relates to Freedom, too. The novel goes into a great section on West Virginia, deeply politically incorrect in various ways, and mentions how many folks there get creamed there by coal trucks.

  4. David Bailey

    I’m just impressed that your wife reads your blog — not something that my wife Anne ever did except when I posted a picture of her holding a pig’s head on a plate.

    • Actually she didn’t start reading it—or at least subscribing—until recently, after I’d been writing it a year and a half. Probably good discipline for me that she waited.

  5. John

    I well remember when Jack Whacked the Mac.

  6. I should not be laughing. It is mean of me to be laughing.

  7. It’s not the breaking — it’s the way you wrote about it. Reminded me of the time I “Y2k’d” myself way back at the turn of the century. Spilled three tiny drops of iced tea on my laptop and southern fried the motherboard.

    • Yep. You can’t fail to see the humor in the absurd fragility of these devices. I think it was easier for me to have a wry response because the Kindle was so new. I am so afraid that water will kill my laptop that I looked into keyboard covers, but figured that would so compromise keyboard feel that I’m instead just backing up like crazy all the time.

  8. Daiva Markelis

    A clear sign from the God of Books. What we need to do now is to see if there were other similar incidents to yours happening on the same day. Like those dead birds falling from the sky. And a bird on your Kindle. A coincidence? A think not.

    • Ha! Those poor blackbirds. I read that story of hundreds dropping from the sky, dead or stunned, and was glad I have less risk of being sucked up by a “washing machine” thunderstorm.

  9. Kristin

    I may be in the minority here, but I have had a Kindle for 2 years and I love it. I have been able to up my books read count as I can read wherever I might be waiting (seems like we wait a lot these days) and can multi-task reading without lugging multiple books. I would suggest a Kindle cover for your new one. It’s true, all these electronic do-dads are fragile and sensitive (my smart phone covers its ears when I curse its lack of simplicity) but a cover for your Kindle would preclude any more toppling disasters. Hubby and I both got leather covers; they have an inside felt padding and they look like a leather writing journal to the unsuspecting from the outside. If only the Kindle had a ‘book smell’ button to press, I could ALMOST give up my paper book habit. Almost. Good luck with the new Kindle.

    • Thanks for commenting and for this perspective, Kristin. I did get a leather cover, which I love—but I think it was compromised in the avalanche because I had it folded back. So the Kindle probably hit face-first, and its face was unprotected while the back was REALLY protected!

      Although I am kind of grouchy about my Kindle, I can see loving it. In fact I was amazed by how it faded into the background as I got into the novel. I mean, the fact I was reading on a screen didn’t matter. That’s kind of amazing to me.

  10. i picked up a kindle last fall during a texas vacation and soon found myself reading at the beach. brought it in a plastic bag and carried it away in one. it was too bright to read a book. been using it ever since in addition to real books and it has made me realize that the world needs kindle AND books.

    i enjoyed your blog – glad i found it via tom grimes’ blog. check out my new community project “kaffe in katmandu” if you (and others) like – it would be great to get some creative non-fiction content there.