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Nanny Knows Best & Searching For The Reincarnated - review

This is a very quick review of two e-books from the West Midlands. For fuller details about the books themselves, just look at their entries here, under Publishing.

We all know what an e-book could look like but how many of us can say we've seen, still less read one?

These two books are quite conventional in their layout. They have chapters which are arranged in a fairly straight-forward narrative order. (B S Johnson, The Unfortunates, where the pages of his 1960s novel came like a pack of cards, they ain't.)

This makes them easy to get into, but perhaps maybe isn't exploiting the e-book medium as well as they might. For example, there is no use of sound or animated graphics. No bad thing, you might say, especially if you like, are used to or prefer paper-based texts. Equally if you're an avid games playing technozombie seeking similar, you won't find it here.

If you like, these two books are e-backs, in the same way that you have hard-backs and paper-backs. The CD is the cover the book comes in, and you open it with your computer.

No problems there. You just slot the CD in, and follow the instructions. "Nanny Knows Best" is perhaps easier to navigate. It's just like opening a book and reading it. "Searching For The Reincarnated" is a little less intuitive, where you are given options to look at background material - Bibliography and Resources (including Lit-net) Alphabetical Character List....and a very interesting section where the author Kay Fletcher explains how she wrote and published the book.

What about the books themselves? They complement each other.

"Nanny Knows Best" is a retrospective view of Thatcher's Middle England. How did we survive it? Was it as bad as I remembered it? (Worse, in fact) Simon Fletcher handles the characters well. We meet them at a dinner party, and each chapter comes with handy little drawings, and different text fonts to help set the scene, and which come gently from the screen. If you know Simon, and Simon's poetry, there is that light but sharp touch which informs his fiction.

"Searching For The Reincarnated" is a rather larger complex work. It is 'about the passing of time, how time finds stasis in memory, and how ghosts and memories are often one in the same thing.' To some extent you need to believe that in order to fully appreciate the writing, and I'm not sure if I do. Reading it I'm minded of the answer my mother-in-law gave me when I asked her if she believed in ghosts."No. But they're a lot of them about." It is very much people living today coming to terms with their and others' deep hidden and internalised pasts. (Rather than common if not shared experiences, qua Thatcher and Nanny Knows Best) The trick is get into those characters, and here it may help to print out the text, where there are easy-to-follow instructions.

But then if you print it out for yourself, does it remain an e-book?

Why not discuss this at "What Do Writers Want From The Web?"
where you'll be able to see Searching For The Reincarnated and Nanny Knows Best, and talk to Simon Fletcher....

6pm - 7pm
The Orange Studio, Cannon Street
4 / 2 concession

'Is the web the worst thing since sliced bread for writers? Is it just a source of information, or is it the 21st century's equivalent to the novel?'

Say what you want or listen to other writers and poets in discussion with David Fine, co-ordinator of www.lit-net.org the virtual literature centre for the West Midlands.

Part of the Birmingham Book Festival Box Office 0121 605 7000 or 236 5622
© 2001; David Fine
This work can also be seen on web site: http://www.lit-net.org/bbf
 
 

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