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Books

Kindling in the Cotswolds

This Christmas like—I’d be willing to wager—thousands of other thirty- and forty-something women I received my first bonafide toy in years: a Kindle. But before I’d even charged the battery on it I was up to Benita’s Frites in another gift, a paperback edition of Jonathan Gold’s alphabetical guide to Los Angeles restaurants, Counter Intelligence. I first read about Jonathan Gold earlier this year in a profile of him in The New Yorker. He wrote restaurant reviews in the LA Weekly for many years, but somehow in my intermittent reading of that periodical during my decade in Los Angeles—largely while waiting at the car wash on Pico and 26th and the front counter of Peet’s on Main Street—I never came across him. Given that I’ve lived in England for going on five years now, one might think my sister’s timing of this gift a bit off. To the contrary, I find it perhaps even more compelling now than I would have if I still lived in L.A. I’m not sure what’s at work here, but it must be the same logic that explains why I flip straight to Table for Two, the mini restaurant review in the opening pages of The New Yorker, despite the fact that I, like much of the New Yorker subscribing population, have visited New York City a grand total of two times in the last decade.

Back to the Kindle. I finally got around to charging the thing up and, at the risk of sounding like a consumer electronics blog, my first impressions are all good. For starters, they’ve emulated Apple and kept the printed instructions to a minimum. This caused me brief concern as I couldn’t find any reference to why the thing came with an American plug (I used the USB instead of hunting around for my adapter) or if I had to do to something special to register it for use outside the U.S. Eventually I threw caution to the wind and just followed the prompts to buy a book. Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, my current book club read, downloaded in mere minutes from the front bedroom of the cottage which means Amazon has performed a minor miracle with their Whispernet service in the UK. (Mobile phone reception in our cottage is limited to practically leaning out the back window of our kitchen and, in our town, precise longitudinal coordinates in the market square. Start venturing down West End to the Wheatsheaf and you’re quickly in no bar territory, no pun intended.)

I started reading on it yesterday while enduring the lengthy process of getting highlights. I highly recommend this over mind numbing banter with your hair colorist unless of course your hair colorist is my talented friend Debi at the Jim Wayne salon in Beverly Hills who can entertain you with stories about her porn star clients. But my hair colorist was the twenty-something Mia of a Covent Garden salon, and once I had told her I was going out for dinner on New Year’s Eve and she told me she was going to Brighton with my hair stylist, Summer, and another girl from the salon, we had largely exhausted our conversational repertoire. She left me to my Kindle and I tipped her handsomely for it. In general it was a pleasant reading experience, although the page transitions are ever so slightly clunky and I already long for a color version. But now I am sounding like some kind of geek. I might as well seal my reputation and admit I am truly pathetically looking forward to showing it off at my first book club meeting of 2010.

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