I’m pretty loyal. If I like something I tend to keep on liking it. But recently I was forced to reconsider my position toward an old passion.
I was in a play for two weekends at the Forum Theatre. We finished strong last Saturday and struck the set on Sunday. I felt pretty good about it; I was told I looked thin.
The play’s action took place in a college library, so the set required a lot of hardback books. We borrowed from local bookmeister Ed Postal of Barnaby Rudge bookstore, and from the private collections of the cast and crew, ending up with a total of about 1,200.
They looked great onstage. Books give a room warmth, depth and color. They also provide weight, and that was one weighty set. Had Laguna suffered an earthquake during our run, our set would have been the one spot that didn’t move.
It was while I carried crates of books to my car and into the theater before we opened, and back to my car and into my house after we closed, that an unprecedented feeling came over me.
A feeling that there might be something in this e-book idea.
They have this product now, this wireless ... thing ... that weighs 10 ounces and is about the size of the envelope my phone bill comes in. They say it holds up to 1,500 books. One of my castmates likes his.
I’ve been dreading it. I recoil from it. No wireless innovation can compare favorably to a book.
On the other hand, I realized last weekend that it can compare favorably to 1,200 books, because 1,200 books are tough to take on the road.
Thinking of e-books as superior to real books is a radical reassessment for me, on the order of renouncing air. Books have always been essential friends of mine. I like their look, feel and smell. To me, they’re distilled people in an ideal form.
But when you put the kind of book I love — a big thick one, packed with wit and wisdom — into a box with a dozen more like it, it turns from a friend to an abdominal injury.
When I was young I traveled light, switching apartments every year without fuss. Now, because of my library, if I had to move I’d need half the Bekins fleet or I’d never make it.
I loved doing the play but did take away that one unhappy lesson: The years go by, and even if you think you’re watching your weight, you find yourself getting heavy in places you weren’t expecting.
SHERWOOD KIRALY is a Laguna Beach resident. He has written four novels, three of which were critically acclaimed. His novel, “Diminished Capacity,” is now available in bookstores, and the film version is available on DVD.