Wednesday 21 November 2012

Living Underground

I received a phone call yesterday to tell me that a book that I had ordered was now ready to be picked up. The bookstore is called “Pages” and is one of the few small bookstores left in Calgary. I don’t really get there too often, partly because it is sort of far away from where I live and sort of because I am not as committed as I should be to supporting a good bookstore.

Part of the problem is that the big stores like Chapters have managed to put most of the small stores out of business by selling books cheaper. That is also the reason that I use them, since I am admittedly a cheapskate. I think that bookstores like the record stores before them are a dying breed. It won’t be too long before the Chapters and Barnes and Nobels are a thing of the past. Books and magazines are going digital, and no matter how you or I feel about it, that change is coming as sure as a politician will lie to you in an election year.

I watched the same thing happen with music. I delivered mail to a mall with a record store, and watched it go from records to cassette tapes to CD’s, finally closing it’s doors. The music we listen to now is downloaded to our computers. Sure there are still record stores and I like to go in and hold the album in my hand, reading the cover and getting a glimpse of what the artist wanted to convey to us. I have my record collection still, boxed in the basement. I have digitized it and can now listen to the old albums with all of the pops, hisses and scratches that I have become accustomed to. Now, I preview a song on Youtube, and if I like it I will either buy it, get it from the library or use one of the methods of copying the music that are available.

I would say that at least half of my reading is now digital. Oh, I love the feel of a book and going to the library is like going into a cathedral for me. I have often stood in the middle of the library and marvelled at the collection of human thought that sit on the shelves. Some stories just have to be told and will give you no rest until they are on a page and out of your head. They are no less important if they are digital. Less fun for sure, but I speak as an old guy who “sort of” embraces the new technology. The young of today have no history with non digital media and will slowly let it fade into a niche.
I picked up a book today that was written by my friend Ruth Walker. It is called “ Living Underground” and from the reports that I have heard, it is a wonderful story. I am not really a big fan of Canadian literature. I have gotten into arguments before saying that, but what I mean is not hurtful, but just a personal preference. Canadian Literature is like Opera and rap music to me, I can appreciate that it has merit, but it just isn’t my cup of tea. I am afraid to read Ruth’s book! Ruth is a literary person and will probably have written a compelling, well written and literate novel.

I do love the idea that someone that I know has written a book and I am inspired by Ruth. You know, the story is set in the general area of where I was raised, and the era is the same as well, so it should be very familiar. I have a book or two that are in line to be read ahead of “Living Underground” so I get to anticipate for just a little while longer.

Should be fun!

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