Tuesday, 20 December 2011

A Wannabe E-Book Reader

My favourite blogger Stateside, the author and ex-agent Nathan Brandsford put up this post (one of his best so far?) this week. I urge you to check it out, and if you haven't already, to rent the films pronto. They are modern classics - improvised scripts, I seem to remember, which were then re-enacted on set. Beautiful.

On similar lines, I am blogging today about two twentieth century memoirs I've been giving a twenty-first century twist to reading this month; they were published within a year of each other, and were written by authors born within twenty years of each other. Marcel Pagnol's (born 1895) My Father's Glory and My Mother's Castle (first published in 1960, sadly now OP) and Laurie Lee's (born 1915) Cider With Rosie (first published 1959).
Pagnol's recollections of Aubagne as a child are dim; he moved from there aged three to Saint-Loup, a 'fairly big village on the ouskirts of Marseilles'. Cider with Rosie is about Lee's childhood from age three onwards in the Gloucestershire village of Slad in England.

I don't own a Kindle; I remain on the fence, but I did read these books in a way which, I imagine, if I owned an interactive ebook, I might have done. 

Suggested ingredients for a Wannabe E-Book Reader:

1. Take one Cider with Rosie and one My Father's Glory and My Mother's Castle
2. Hook up your laptop/computer
3. Hit up google maps and switch to satellite view
4. Type in Slad, or Saint-Loup
5. Zoom in, and re-imagine the Lee and Pagnol as infants tracing this territory in the south of France and the south west of England.

Does this undermine the magic? I don't think so. I found, on google, the building which once was the school in Lee's early twentieth century Slad. It was fascinating to imagine him there, and to add this new dimension to my re-reading of this classic. One day I might get to Slad in person and visit the lanes he so beautifully describes, that simple world - one innocent of oil and unchanged for a millenium - gone. I don't know if I'll ever make it back to Aix en Provence, but I might just get a Kindle...

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