Flipped Off By Le Carre

on Tuesday, October 18, 2011
For some really strange reason I was recently overcome by the need to read Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John Le Carre. After scouring several sections of my local bookstore to no avail I asked at the counter if it might be found somewhere that I never venture (pretty much anywhere outside the literary fiction section). Turns out the only copy they had was one of those new Flipbacks, which I'd been wanting to try out for a while anyway. Fate, it seems, is a wacky mistress.

For those unfamiliar with this weird little publishing format, it's basically a mini-book, printed vertically and designed to be held in one hand, with your thumb acting as designated page-turning digit. Perfect, so the guff goes, for reading on the train, at the dinner table, on the toilet or following an amputation. There's a whole bunch of excellent titles on offer (David Mitchell, Steven King, Melvyn Bragg, Chris Cleave) and a couple of crap ones (James Frey, David Nicholls). I opted for a well-regarded, but to me hitherto unknown quantity.

Stuffing the thing in my pocket, I was immediately seized by a crippling fear of being seen reading it. Would it make me as much of a douche as people who read on e-devices? There have been no studies; the evidence just isn't there. I may become a statistic in some academic journal!

Figuring I was, at worst, taking one for the team, I settled into a comfy chair at home and worked my hand into a suitably contorted state to read it as intended. And yep, I hated it. Now, I can't work out if it's just that I'm not loving the novel itself and am projecting on the format or if it's the other way round. Or maybe I just don't like both. I didn't get very far with science at school. I do think, however, that a more apt experiment would be reading a book I love in Flipback format and seeing how that goes. After all, I enjoyed a couple of books on the Kindle and still hated that stupid piece of plastic. So if I ever get around to it I'll report back after reading Flipback Misery. Until then I'll just grumble about the RSI in my thumb.


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