Six days in to my month of reading only single-serving content like Kindle Singles, I feel like I’m behind. I’m only through three titles, which kind of defeats the purpose of an encapsulated experience every time you sit down to read. Despite it being Summer Reading Season, I still have a job; and this week was particularly busy, what with all the Apple news, visiting asteroids, the revamped Obamacare website and other excitement.
OK, enough apologies; here’s what I got into:
The Rover , by Drew Magary
I love Magary’s work, especially his stuff on Deadspin, and I was interested to see if he could bring the casual tone of his online work to fiction. He did! This is a neat story about a bored older man and his emotional attachment to a space vehicle that lands in his yard. It’s only 23 pages long—about perfect for a bedtime story—with a narrative arc a lot like an 80s movie: improbable event occurs –> protagonist has an adventure stemming from that event –> minor twist ending.
No Exit , by Gideon Lewis-Kraus
Yes, this story ran in WIRED and you can read it for free. But hold that click! The Kindle Single version is an extended cut, significantly longer than what you’ll find online or in the magazine—and it’s absolutely worth two bucks. Hell, I work here, I get the magazine for free, and I shelled out. No Exit is an amazing reality check on the popular mythology of Silicon Valley. You think it’s all piles of easy money and baby billionaires? Well, OK, there is a lot of that, but Lewis-Kraus’ beautifully written piece offers a rare glimpse of the grind that goes with the gold rush. At 48 pages, this one took me two sittings, but it’s just about right for a day at the beach.
This came out in 2011, and I heard so much about it at the time. Then I read it, and, honestly, I shrugged. BCC tells the story of an entrepreneur who opens a bar in Baghdad’s Green Zone, and all of the acrobatics that feat required. The details are fascinating. But the story trips over those details a lot, and the arc doesn’t flow. It’s almost like you can feel the writer (who also wrote the WIRED story that became Argo ) struggling to make use of his amazing reporting. And the reporting is amazing. One fun note: I bought the 42-page piece off The Atavist and sent it to my Kindle. Then, when I sat down to read, I noticed it started at Chapter 2… See, the story begins with a video, which my Kindle couldn’t play. So read this one on your iPad, or watch the video on your laptop like I did. Then crawl into bed. (You can opt for a text-only version, but the video is pretty cool.)