Literature Fiend

Every book changes your literary journey.

Date: April 7, 2016

Why Limit the Different Options of Storytelling?

“Mmmm,” said another chewing on a sandwich. “Me too. I like the feel of the pages.”

Here I was feeling battered by an argument I’ve heard and read about many times before. Fair enough, I thought and continued to eat my lunch.

All I’d said was how much I loved my Kindle; I mean come on guys, it’s not like I mentioned a nationwide book burning saga.

It’s not even an “either or” question.

It’s the “either or mentality” that really puzzles me. A kindle, a physical book, or a audiobook aren’t a mutually exclusive thing.

It’s the story that matters.

The story is the juice; the story is the petrol that keeps the car rolling along at 70 mph; the story is the soul of what – we ravenous readers want after all. Does it really matter if it’s told on a piece of paper, a computer screen or through a speaker?

The Guardian recently published a article titled, Readers absorb less on Kindles than on paper, study finds. You can probably guess from the title that the study found that readers using an e-reader were worse than readers with a physical book at recalling events from a mystery story.

Great. And?

Don’t get me wrong but it’s an interesting factoid – one that may, in time be brought up in a pub quiz – but one that also doesn’t bother me in the slightest. We’ve all done it; Got to the bottom of a page… [a little pause] … and then you think, What the hell have I just read?

This happens, not just on a Kindle but with a physical book, audiobook or in fact when your partner talks to you about their day. This isn’t anything to worry about, it’s just little old life trying to impose on your “quiet time.”

So what do we do? Roll the sleeves up and go back to the top of the page (or re-wind in the case of an audiobook)

So, it’s a mystery as to why people segregate themselves into little groups. “I only read YA,” or “I only listen to Indie music,” or “Oh no, I couldn’t read a book on a kindle!”

Just embrace everything (within reason that is) All three mediums mentioned here hold great and different ways to explore literature. So here are a few benefits for each:

The Kindle

  • The majority of the classics are free to download
  • You can take a vast amount of reading material on holiday without using up your precious EasyJet carry on space.
  • It’s practical (It’s also useful when you don’t want an ‘epic’ straining your arm. I recently made this mistake when I bought Stephen King’s IT  in paperback – All 1,336 pages – meant I had to read at home)

The Physical Book

  • Adds that air of authenticity to the work
  • Is great because it’s easy to pass onto friends or family.
  • There is no better feeling for a literaturefiend than finding a book that you’ve been looking for; in either a second hand store or tucked away at the back of a dusty library shelf.
  • It also enhances the bathing experience. If the book it gets wet, who cares; just sling it on a radiator.

The Audiobook

  • Easily accessible on a smart phone, tablet or computer.
  • If you get a good narrator it can enhance the story.
  • Great for a bike ride, car journey, or just aimlessly walking the streets.


So yes. I do love my Kindle, and, in fact my bookcase full of physical books. Also,  I’m beginning to become fond of audiobooks too.

And, of course everyone has a preferred way of ingesting a good old story, but placing yourself in the “Kindle,” “Physical Book,” or “audiobook” camp limits the literaturefiend’s options. Surely there is a place in this world for all mediums of storytelling.

“Story” being the optimum word.

For it’s the story that gets the reader horny, sad, frightened, angry, happy and inspired.

The story is what we – the reader – want to survive, just like they did long before books were even printed. Just feel lucky that we live in a time where we can hunt that book down in a store, receive it with the click of a button or listen to it in the dark.

Did you enjoy this article? Did you hate it? How do you feel about the different mediums of storytelling? Whatever your opinion literaturefiend would like to here it.

Cannery Row by John Steinbeck

Steinbeck, Cannery RowJohn Steinbeck is a great humanist writer who focuses the majority of his work on the less fortunate members of society, usually in California. His main qualities as a writer lie in the description of landscape and the tender aspects of his character’s. For the above themes, I suggest you check out Of Mice & Men, Grapes of Wrath and East of Eden.

Cannery Row was published in 1945 and is set in Monterey, California during the great depression. Cannery Row is a waterfront street which had a number of sardine canning factories (the last of which closed in 1978.)

Rather than focus on the workers of these factories – many of whom were out-of-towners – it deals with the colourful inhabitants of ‘The Row’ during the time the canning factories are closed:

“It is the hour of the pearl – the interval between day and night when time stops and examines itself.”

At the beginning of the novel Steinbeck writes:

“It’s inhabitants [Cannery Row’s] are, as the man once said, ‘whores, pimps, gamblers, and sons of bitches,’ by which he meant Everybody. Had the man looked through another peephole he might have said, ‘Saints and angels and martyrs and holy men,’ and he would have meant the same thing” (p.5)

A group of men, led by Mack, who have no ambition except to sit around and get drunk and live rent free in an old shed, affectionately called, The Palace Flophouse and Grill. Instead of looking at them in a stereotypical way, Steinbeck has Doc – a well respected marine biologist – describe them in a positive light,

“Look at them. There are your true philosophers. I think. […] Mack and the boys know everything that has ever happened in the world and possibly everything that will happen. I think they survive in this particular world better than other people. In a time where people tear themselves to pieces with ambition and nervousness and covetousness, they are relaxed.” (p.106)

The local shopkeeper, called Lee Chong who’s store is described as “while not a model of neatness, was a miracle of supply” (p.7), has a similar air of affection. The people who work at the local whorehouse are all described with similar fondness. This is Steinbeck’s way of showing the reader how reliant the inhabitants are upon each other.

This novel marked a change in his normal style, in the sense that the novel had no real plot. Just a series of chapters highlighting the “real” Cannery row. Aside from human interaction,  Steinbeck talks about nature; particularly about animal life and how it co-exists alongside human life.

“A well-grown gopher took up residence in a thicket of mallow weeds in the vacant lot on Cannery Row[…] It was beautiful in the early morning when he first poked his head out of the burrow. The mallows filtered green light down on him and the first rays of the rising sun shone into his hole and warmed it so that he lay there content and very comfortable” (p.144)

There are many descriptions like this in the novel, but I think it really highlights the way Steinbeck was thinking at this stage in his life. He is deeply pondering man’s place within the eco-system of the natural world.

Overall, Cannery Row is littered with excellent description, heartfelt dialogue and deeply human character’s. It shows an author who is brimming with confidence,  and who has deep compassion towards the poor. On top of that it is a rapid read at 147 pages; this comes well recommended.

What did you think of the novel? As always Literature Fiend would love to hear any discussions points, or suggestions for further reading. Please contact us, or leave a comment below, it would be great to hear from you.  



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