More than 140 characters on recent reading

First of all, I did finish Elif Batuman’s The Possessed and I intend to review it for Solares Hill so no review type copy here except to say that I liked it very very much and give it an A. Or four out of five stars if that’s the system I wind up going to, which I might. Maybe even four and a half.

After finishing that I started on Neil Gaiman’s American Gods … and started following the One Book One Twitter experiment on Twitter. I’m not going to go into the reasons I resisted then finally caved to Twitter — David Carr does that far better than I in this piece from the New York Times. I don’t think it will supersede Facebook in my online life — most of my friends and family are on Facebook; I hardly know anyone who Twitters. I signed up for a bunch of book-related feeds and will use it for local stuff. (Hey Key West Citizen — it’s great you guys have a Twitter feed and all, but I think the point of Twitter is that you post to it occasionally — as of this writing the most recent post is 11 days old — that’s not very, um, newsy.) I am starting to get the protocols, with feeds and hashmarks etc. though I still feel like a blundering ignoramus in danger of making an online fool of myself. But I can see its appeal and think it might even be a good exercise for someone like me, who has a tendency to think I must be up on all things all the time. That’s impossible on Twitter and good thing, too — so you just check in, see what others are saying and maybe follow a couple interesting links.

As far as a reading/literary experience goes … well, it’s not a coherent conversation of any kind, that’s for sure. More like dropping into a big cocktail party where you don’t know anyone but everyone’s pretty friendly, and eavesdropping and engaging in a couple quick exchanges. Is that edifying? I’m not sure. It’s kind of fun. I can’t say I’ve gotten any big insights into the book from any of the posts that I’ve read. But I’m grateful to the people who made this happen because 1) they finally got me to read American Gods and 2) now I finally have a rudimentary understanding of Twitter.

I can see that for others, including Neil Gaiman, Twitter is an important part of their lives. I don’t know that it will ever become an important part of mine. And I really would like to resist Yet Another Online Timewaster. But it’s been an interesting introduction.

The bird pictured here, in case anyone was wondering and didn’t already know, is a Northern Mockingbird, Florida’s state bird and the primary twitterer of local environs. Recently, many people I know have been complaining about this bird twittering outside their windows early in the morning. Personally I don’t mind that but don’t like it when they divebomb you because they think you’re too close to their nests.

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