Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

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Excuse me while I light the fire and get comfortable in my seat. Sorry the room is a little chilly this morning. At least we're not outside in this awful weather, right? I have a couple of great single malts if you'd like something to warm you up.

Being an "official" writer-in-residence is a somewhat intimidating thing to contemplate. Even after six published novels (with a seventh underway), numerous articles and essays, and well over a year on a crime writing blog I share with four other authors, I often feel like my writing skills themselves are still very much a work in progress. Now, I'm being set up as sort of an expert on the matter.

On the other hand, having been a musician for over 40 years (coughs to help disguise the number), I'm used to feeling like I'm not completely sure what I'm doing all the time. If your goal is to produce the best music possible, you must constantly question what you're doing. There is always something to learn in music. Very few of us have the genius of Mozart. We all struggle to some extent.

So, what to talk about today?

The chatter at the moment, on the other blog is all about electronic readers, and since we're presently meeting in a virtual sitting room/library, this seems a good topic to also bring up here.

I'll come clean from the start: I'm a bit of a techno-weenie. Technology generally does not frighten or intimidate me. When a new version of the software programs I use is released, I usually jump on board pretty quickly. Any hesitation is only tempered by the reviews it gets. (It's sometimes better to wait until they get the bugs out.) Bottom line: I'm very comfortable with computers.

So you'd think that I would jump at using an electronic reader, right?

I have tried most of them out there, including the new Amazon Kindle. I have been entirely underwhelmed. Spending so much of my time staring at a computer screen does not make it very attractive to spend my very scarce leisure time staring at a different computer screen. No matter how much they try to make it seem like "real paper", fact is you're still staring at a computer screen. This is getting close to decent, though, to be honest.

What happens to your expensive reader if you happen to doze off while using it? I do this with some regularity. If I'm sitting in my favourite reading chair, the book can hit the floor. Big deal. If it were my expensive electronic reader, though, that's an entirely different matter, regardless of what their drop tests show. A couple of falls and you're $400 reader will be toast.

There are numerous other shortcomings, too. You can read the reviews on the Amazon site.

I may be completely wrong here, but I don't see electronic readers making big inroads unless paper shortages become the norm, and that's a very scary prospect to a book lover!

Have you ever used a reader? What did you think?

Would you like a wee dram before you head out into the storm?

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

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Rick Blechta

Rick Blechta is the author of the novels Knock On Wood, The Lark Ascending, Shooting Straight in the Dark, Cemetery of the Nameless, and When Hell Freezes Over. A Case of You, his latest novel, will be published in the spring of 2008 with Rendezvous Press.

Go to Rick Blechta’s Author Page