The Irony of the Kindle or
How I Missed Out on My Chance to Meet Diane Keaton As an avid reader and a high school English teacher, I care about books and the written word. I also care about my paycheck, small as it is. Therefore, I hardly ever buy books; instead I frequent the library, using their electronic system of reserving and renewing books at my leisure. My husband is also an avid reader, but more noticeably a gadget guy. He has a smart phone, an iPad, and a Kindle, and he’s attempting to convince me we need “the cloud,” whatever that is. While I lie in bed attempting to comfortably support 786 pages of The Passage, he holds our Kindle easily, reading the latest Game of Thrones tome. I didn’t begrudge him this difference until I was fully hooked into The Passage and attempted to balance it on an elliptical machine at the gym. A poor workout, bruised knee, and little progress on my reading left me frustrated. That experience, combined with my 22nd position on the waitlist for Diane Keaton’s Then Again memoir, left me willing to take him up on his “generous offer” to share the Kindle with me. One afternoon I picked up our Kindle, an older model with the keyboard. I examined it with trepidation, but I liked the heft, or lack thereof, compared to most print books. The hold screen was interesting and seemed to change each time I turned it off. My husband had bought a leather cover with a reading light, which I knew would benefit him, considering that he is an early-to-bed kind of guy while I am a late-night reader. I did a quick search for Then Again, and it popped up with a darkened “Buy” oval. I pressed a button on the keyboard, and one minute, forty-seven seconds later my husband called to verify that I was indeed buying something online. I assured him it was my purchase and marveled at the surprising ease. My fate was sealed. It’s important to mention this was a few days before Christmas, and I am notoriously stingy around the holidays. This particular year we were flying our four-person family to California for the week between Christmas and New Year’s so I was already feeling underwater from the high cost of the plane tickets. Part of me shrieked over what I had done so carelessly. Why couldn’t I just wait until I made it up the library queue? But I was reassured to find I was in the 17th position, a mere 6-9 months away from receiving the book in hand, for free! As we settled into our cross-country flight, I leaned back and clicked my way through Then Again until I was 75% complete.
Hold it. I didn’t realize the Kindle would track my progress in percentage. What a sense of accomplishment that little number created. I found my eye checking it often, realizing that if I changed the font size the percentage would move up that much faster. This combination of reading with competition (albeit with myself) filled me with joy. Perhaps I could get on board with this e-reading craze after all. The next day as I sat on the beach in the little cove near my parents’ house, I dug my toes in the sand and achieved 90% completion, when my mother casually tapped my shoulder and said, “Honey, there’s Diane Keaton.” Huh!?! As my head whipped to the side, I saw that, indeed, Diane Keaton herself was at most fifty feet away from me. Speechless, I watched her open-mouthed as she cheered on her family playing beach football. She shouted; she iPhone-videoed; she gallivanted; she Diane Keaton-ed all over the place, almost into my lap at times. She appeared tall and lithe, surprisingly thin, in fact, with beautiful, bouncy hair. She was bare-footed, with an ankle-length parka jacket open to reveal a white t-shirt and rolled up jeans. She was not Annie Hall at the beach, rather a happy, relaxed mother celebrating her family. As soon as she stopped cheering and sat down in a beach chair, I was prepared to jump up, introduce myself, explain how much I enjoyed her book, and fawn/gush appropriately, of course. Then the realization hit me like a ton of, well, books: I was not holding her book. In fact, I was holding an electronic gadget that happened to have her book downloaded on it– on page 271, to be exact. Diane Keaton sat down in that beach chair, and my heart sank. I could not casually stroll over with a copy of her book, cover photo, pages, and all, to introduce myself. An author cannot sign a Kindle. It would be humiliating to rush over, point to a screen and say, “See, see, I’m reading you! I’m 90% through YOUR work!” This fateful moment where Diane Keaton and I would smile, laugh, and talk about the book was a cruel electronic joke. My family would not be invited to join in the football game with her children. She and I would not develop a lifelong bond… or at least a really cool memory of talking on a beach. I have only read one other book on the Kindle since then, and no, I did not run into Tina Fey during that time.
Kit McFarland is a high school English teacher who strives to share her love of literature and writing with others each day. She is also the owner of Dragonfly Yoga Studio in downtown Fredericksburg and is working on her yoga teacher certification. She and her family live, play and thrive in the Fredericksburg community.
Fall 2013 Volume 1, Issue 1
A compilation of the Fredericksburg Literary and Art Review, Volumes 1 and 2 (2013-2014)