For me, reading involves a certain number of considerations. First and foremost, it must be a good read. To me, that means a good story, well told. By well told, of course I mean well written. The price of books is going up, and sadly because of this, more and more public libraries are dependent on their generosity of patrons for loanable books. Equally sad is that often patrons feel that their generosity endows them with certain entitlements which this reviewer does not necessarily support, namely, the right to determine what is sand what is not appropriate, and for whom, in a public lending library. As that subject is not the topic of this piece but merely the introduction, you may feel free to untwist your knickers, if they have in fact become unfashionably twisted, and proceed with the matter at hand, the book review.
If you take a peek back at the first paragraph, I mention a good story well written. That’s an arbitrary rule. For some stories, that determination is made in ten or so pages, while in others, a longer read is necessary.
For example, if you want me to read a book of short stories, your first story better be good or I’ll likely never know if the rest is any good. Novellas and short stories need to grab my attention from the first word. All too often they do not. Sometimes I keep reading out of respect for the writer, and sometimes even that isn’t enough.
For example, when I read and reviewed The Cell by noted horror writer Stephen King, I concluded that this was simply a shortened edition of The Stand, minus The Walking Dude and all the religious implications. It has been a decade or more since I read one of Sir Stephen’s short story collections.
And that, as they say, is the introduction.
Last week I downloaded a new Kindle e-book, written exclusively for Kindle format and release, and written by Stephen King. Unless he does a Disney on us, and releases it in multiple formats before putting it ‘into the vault for seventy-five years”, you have exactly three choices to read this short story:
1. The obvious one – buy a Kindle
2. Less obvious and efficient, download the free Kindle software from Amaon.com for your smartphone, personal computer, or tablet and read it there, or
3. talk someone into loaning or renting, you their Kindle.
Let me try to give you a small synopses of UR without giving you too much of a spoiler.
Wesley Smith is a professor in the English department of Moore College, Moore Kentucky, a place Wes’s only friend in the department, fellow Moore professor Don Allman, describes as being “just south of Mediocre”.
Wes is an old school sort of young guy and he was dating Ellen Silverman, the coach of the Women’s basketball team, just about the only thing at Moor that couldn’t be described using the word ‘mediocre’ as one of the adjectives, ‘was’ being the operative word. It had been working quite nicely until Ellen queried Was with “Why can’t you just read it off the computer like the rest of else?” a query to which Wes’s answer had been “That was a first edition I got from my father, you illiterate b***h.”
The next day, after a discussion with one of his students, Wesley Smith orders a Kindle, believing he would explain it away by saying “I’m experimenting with new technology,” not to mention that it might just win Ellen back if she saw him reading ‘off the computer like the rest of us.”
Except Wes’s Kindle came next day shipping, a luxury he certainly hadn’t requested.
Except unlike white or slate gray, Wes Smith’s Kindle was pink.
Except Wes’s Kindle has a menu option no one else’s has. It’s called UR.
The last time Stephen King nailed me to my chair in a single sitting reading was when I read The Stand for about the fifth time. In ways I haven’t enjoyed in decades, King’s matchless prose held me riveted to my screen. This was the Stephen King I remember from his early books, when he seemed to be having fun writing and fun poking fun at himself along the way. This is a witty King writing at his witty best. Not to put too fine a point on it, but this was just plain fun to read.