Brian Spears

Poet, Editor, Teacher, Blogger.

Reading Ulysses on my phone

A year and a half ago, I openly mocked the notion of reading Ulysses on a tiny screen. At the time, I had an iTouch instead of an iPhone, but I was still convinced that it was, as the title of that post says, the worst app ever.

And now, I’m reading Ulysses on my iPhone, though I’m using Stanza and a public domain version, so it was free. I am abashed.

But I’m also thinking that this might be the way I finally finish the novel. I’ve never managed before (and I’m not ashamed to admit that), and I sometimes wonder if that’s because when I get to the thicker parts, I look at the book, realize just how much more I have to get through, and put the book back on the shelf to regather dust. Now the only way I have to keep track is to tap the middle of the screen and see where I am in terms of pages–or to look at the little scroll bar at the bottom–but the number of pages in the former is so large (because the pages are so small) that it’s hard to process just how much farther I really have to go, and the scroll bar at the bottom is so blunt an instrument I mostly ignore it.

I think it’s the uncertainty of just how much farther I have to go that’s keeping the pressure off. Now, I’ll pick up my phone late in the evening, crank up the app, read through 100 or so “pages,” and head off to sleep. And eventually, I think, I’ll finish it.

Other reading I’ve been doing of late: my friend Becka McKay lent me a copy of Inferno done by 20 different translators that I’m also slowly working my way through. I’ve read Dante a number of times–did a class with John DuVal at Arkansas where we read multiple translations of each section–but it’s been a few years since I sat down and really savored it. I’m going at a slow pace–a couple of cantos every couple of nights–and the different voices are really interesting. I’ll do a post on the differences when I finish it.

I’m working on a review of Stacey Lynn Brown’s Cradle Song for The Rumpus, and I just received a copy of the complete correspondence between Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell, which I’m looking forward to dipping into. I finished Robert Creeley’s Pieces and realized I’ll have to read it several more times before I really get what he’s doing, and that I may never get it. I’ve also received (as review copies) new collections from Derek Wolcott and Carl Phillips, as well as a copy of some translations from the Chinese. All await, along with those I mentioned in my last post along these lines. Hmmm.

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March 20, 2010 - Posted by | poetry, smartphones, The Rumpus, tracking my reading

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