Finding the Way to Read “The End and Other Beginnings”

I’ve never read any of the ‘Divergent’ series, despite handling thousands of copies of the novels and special editions and movie tie in cash grabs when I was a bookseller.

We stocked so much of this series, especially around the holidays, that if we’d wanted to we could probably have built a table out of the books to display the books on. (When James Frey’s “A Million Little Pieces” exploded because of Oprah I’m pretty sure we did just that in the front window of the store just to save ourselves time.)

When “The End and Other Beginnings”, a collection of novella-length stories by Veronica Roth, popped up in Libby I thought it might be a good introduction to her writing.

Having just finished “No Country for Old Gnomes”—and the third book in that series not being available yet or I would have jumped on it immediately—some futuristic short stories might be just what I need to cleanse my literary palate of fantasy adventuring with magical creatures and those backstabbing halflings. And a goat-turned-human who really should be commended for controlling his bowels when frightened. I think we can all agree that’s an admirable trait in our leaders.

I can be a little hesitant with listening to short stories—I tend to agree with Mavis Gallant’s opinion that, “Stories are not chapters of novels. They should not be read one after another, as if they were meant to follow along. Read one. Shut the book. Read something else. Come back later. Stories can wait.”

And that’s definitely not how I consume audiobooks. Especially ones I’ve borrow from the library—there’s a deadline, after all, and one doesn’t have infinite time to savor the individual tales. I have a collection of Raymond Carver short stories that I pick up and read a story from every few months. Same goes for a collection of Hemingway short stories, my copy’s spine broken badly in several places to Mark “Hills Like White Elephants” or “The End of Something” and a few other staples of raw, concise, finely crafted short fiction. With a physical book its easy enough to do that, but not in this situation.

Does anyone out there have a preference for how you read books? Favored formats for specific subjects or styles? I like physical books for short stories, and I enjoy reading Ebooks for nonfiction. It’s almost like needing a certain pen or notebook for a particular writing project, like needing to change clothes to suit a situation.

Some books are best as mass markets, the pulp detective stories or movie-of-the-week thrillers; while some need to hardcovers, their physical weight mirroring the perceived heaviness of their content; and the English teacher’s favorite assigned reading, the consummate literary prize winner reprinted in trade paperback with delusions of hardcover grandeur with its cover flaps and jagged, uneven pages.

Or maybe that’s just me….

About mattS

Couch potato, burrito aficionado, whiskey sour drinker, handyman, writer of interesting things.

Posted on November 15, 2019, in Books and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Finding the Way to Read “The End and Other Beginnings”.

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