Friday, April 25, 2014

Something To Hide

My old Kindle has a problem. I have a new Paperwhite, but the old reader has some things on it that I didn't buy from Amazon. I've been trying to figure out how to get them onto the new reader, but while doing it I became rather impatient so I went on reading in spite of the last few letters on the last few lines being hidden.
See, it's not too difficult--yet.  It's slowly growing worse. What I've started reading here is Paradises by Iosi Havilio, Beth Fowler (Translation); Open Letter Books.

So a little is hidden which is perhaps appropriate since the three books I just read with this handicap concerned people with something to hide.

They are Sworn Virgin by Elvira Dones, Clarissa Botsford (Translation); And Other Stories; The Combover by Adrián N. Bravi, Richard Dixon (Translator); Frisch & Co.; and  Happiness is Possible  by Oleg Zaionchkovsky, Олег Зайончковский, Andrew Bromfield (Translator), A.D. Miller (Introduction); And Other Stories.

In The Combover what is being hidden is a bald spot. Our hero goes to great lengths to cover the spot without resorting to a toupee. This is a family tradition. After an agonizing expose in a classroom (he's a professor in Italy) he decides to run away to Lapland.  He gets on the wrong bus and ends up trying to be a hermit in the hills of Italy.  I was briefly reminded of a Monty Python sketch about hermits organizing themselves into bridge clubs, but this takes a different track, though one also lacking the longed for seclusion. A delightful story.

Sworn Virgin deals with a different kind of solitude. At the age of nineteen, Hana, for reasons of social necessity, becomes Mark in a rare rural ritual of the northern Albanian mountain villages.  If she stays in the village there is no returning to being Hana.  After seventeen years, when she has no family left in Albania, she goes to the United States. With the help of a cousin and her family, Hana struggles to live once again as a woman while hiding her prior male identity from all but her family. An intriguing story.

In Happiness is Possible many things are hidden, but that's the way it is when dealing with life in post Soviet Moscow, where people marry and divorce in order to obtain decent housing and/or employment. This is told with gentle humor and has stories within the main story (the protagonist is a writer). Another good read.

All three books were well worth the effort and I got so into the stories that I read right over the missing letters. I just mentally filled in the blanks.

The Kindle in trouble is a refurbished one that Amazon gave me as a replacement for my old keyboard Kindle that died last summer. It went in a way that made it impossible for me to read or save anything on it that didn't come from Amazon. Fortunately the only non-Amazon stuff was from Gutenberg so it was easy to get again.

I don't know if Amazon will replace a replacement, but I really like the Paperwhite better so I really don't care. And I've figured out how to get some of the books onto the new reader.

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