Friday, July 15, 2011

Good Reads: E-Books

I've been anti e-books since the day they came out. As an English/Literary buff, I've prided myself on the ability to annotate, bookmark and flip the pages of my most prized possessions. I'm also a frequent spectator at book signings and literary readings. Can Tayari Jones sign her precious "Silver Sparrow" if I only have the e-copy? Ugh.

Well, I'm sorry to say, they got me. On a hunt for Kathryn Stockett's "The Help", I encountered a ton of "sold-out" at my local bookstores. Frustrated and having no patience to wait the three days it takes to ship from the warehouse, I downloaded the iBook app.

Voila! "The Help" sat on my iPhone screen, after a payment of $9.99, courtesy of the Barnes and Noble free wifi. (Irony eh?)

Having to carry a cooler/laptop bag to work, it has been an awesome feeling knowing that I've lightened my load b/c of one less piece of literature. You can find me flipping through the "pages" with the slide of my finger on the 2 train every morning on my way to the university. (Btw, I'm teaching college prep writing with Harlem Children Zone at Columbia University for the summer. The students call me Professor Buddington, but you can still call me Riv.)

"The Help" is littered with distinct southern dialect and all the flaws of the era its set in. Here's the synopsis from Kathryn Stockett's website:

Three ordinary women are about to take one extraordinary step.

Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone.

Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken.

Minny, Aibileen's best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody's business, but she can't mind her tongue, so she's lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss has secrets of her own.

Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed.

In pitch-perfect voices, Kathryn Stockett creates three extraordinary women whose determination to start a movement of their own forever changes a town, and the way women--mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends--view one another. A deeply moving novel filled with poignancy, humor, and hope, The Help is a timeless and universal story about the lines we abide by, and the ones we don't.

The movie comes out August 11th of this year. Catch the preview here.