Another great thing about eBooks -- because you can carry thousands, you're never stuck if you realize a book you're reading isn't great. I put new books to The Dennis Cooper Test, ie, if a book's losing me, I'll switch to a Dennis Cooper novel instead. Sentences like "Chris's shock was so dense and complex that it collided with the world's very different complexity, sort of like what happens when a very strong light hits a very big jewel" connect with me in a way even obviously good books can't if they don't have that ambiguous extra thing that makes them exceptional.
The latest book failing the DC Test is Russel Bank's Lost Memory of Skin. Which bugs me because I want to like it, but I can't get through it. Before eBooks, I would have finished it. Instead I'm halfway through and probably won't get farther. Which I think is great. It's like a gift of time. I can put my mental finger on what's missing from Lost Memory because I can switch to another book and be engrossed again. I've got a "what I want a book to do for me" point of immediate comparison. And why would I settle when I know what I could have? So I wait til I'm off the subway, get back on Kindle, go looking for the next book that might deliver that experience, stop time, do whatever really great books do for me. Today I brought We Are the Animals.
Real quick: Why don't I like Lost Memory of Skin? I want to. But it reads like the book/author is telling us the Internet is doing bad things to us. Like the book's trying to make a point, talk right at us. I'd rather read Dennis Cooper because the voice comes from inside a head that's convincingly rendered as having a problem. The Banks characters seem like people who have a problem -- but some other guy is going to tell you about it. That's too . . . essayistic? To pull from the top: Lost Memory of Skin is a really strong light. I'm looking for the strong light and the big jewel both.
Tl;dr: eReaders are awesome because you can face off new books against your favorites. I just did it and the new Russel Banks lost.Disqus