31 October 2012

You're Never Lonely With an eBook

I have been meaning to tell you about the latest eBooks in the Marlene Dietrich library, Marlene and ABC, but most of you are already well-acquainted with both titles, having read them on those blocks of wood pulp rectangles that the ancients called--correct me if I'm wrong--"books."

As you may have guessed, you will enjoy no substantial new material in these eBooks. Marlene's autobiography is almost exactly as it was published in 1989. Poor Travis Banton is still "Benton." I did at least find a new typo, with Jean Gabin metamorphosing into "Cabin"! I blame the typeface used in the Grove Press edition. Alas, the eBook editor(s) denied me the vulgar titillation of seeing the "G"s in "Günter Grass" replaced with "C"s.

Also slightly altered is the index. I haven't tallied the omission(s), but I immediately noticed in the eBook that "Academy Awards" was no longer the first entry. If you were hoping to read about such accolades, you can forgo the index and search "academy awards" yourself. I say good riddance!

Reading this book again has restocked my head with sundry minutiae much more satisfying than Oscars talk. Amidst her misinformation, Marlene recalls some eerily detailed trivia, such as a gift to Edith Piaf--a delicate emerald cross worn by the Parisian "guttersnipe" during her September 20, 1952 wedding to Jacques Peals. Squint to see it in the video below (or click here):

Dietrich's ABC is the same as the revised 1984 Ungar edition, but the e-format suits it better than print! It is as if Marlene had a prophetic sense of organization.

Before I explain that, I want to wave the banner for one of my favorite essays in Dietrich Icon, Amelie Hastie's "The Order of Knowledge and Experience." Hastie finds a filmic structure in ABC due to the cross-references that "capture and display the ephemeral." Well, isn't this how we often experience online text? Are you there, Carolina, or did you close this tab due to the paucity of pretty photos? Or maybe you took a detour by clicking on something I linked?

Such is an eBook experience of ABC--one of link-clicking. Think of it as Wikipedia, if you were only reading stub articles, half of which would probably be flagged for not being notable. Under most circumstances, you may not consider dill worth a second glance, but Marlene will have you reading about it again and again because you fear you will miss a dill dough recipe if you so much as blink.

Otherwise, you might be tempted to click on the cross-reference to dill under "BASIL" simply because you have been impulsively clicking every linked entry you encounter. Why not? It is almost effortless to get lost in ABC as an eBook. No risk of paper cuts as you thumb through the pages. No annoyance when you accidentally skip past the entry you were attempting to find. All you have to do is tap your finger on the screen.

You may have the vague notion that you have been clicking between the same two entries (see "SALK, DR. JONAS" and "SWIMMING POOL") for the past six hours, but you do not mind. The omnipotent link led you there, and you will keep clicking those links until your tablet shuts off, protesting against you for being too distracted to charge it. Then and only then will you return to the hazards of your print copy of ABC. Still, you will yearn for that convenient serial clicking experience, and it is better that you fill the Rivas' coffers than Charlotte Chandler's, whose Marlene biography--in electronic or print form--is akin to a mouthful of parsley.


  1. Ah, Joseph, how unkind to print that these books are filling "the Rivas' coffers." Not a bit of it. All proceeds go to MD's companies, especially as we're funding a new Marlene Dietrich Foundation to continue her work against discrimination of ANY kind, especially racial, religious and sexual bias.
    Also, if you really want the best, most accurate, biography, try Maria's book which has been proofed and approved as the only accurate biography by the FilmMuseum Berlin. For me, I also like Sheridan Morley's book.

    1. Peter, if you found that comment unkind, I apologize. Even if your family did receive the proceeds, there would be nothing wrong with that. That is your inheritance, as far as I'm concerned. This information about the Marlene Dietrich Foundation is delightful news to me. So far, I have only read about it on your Wikipedia page and in this off-color blog entry.

      My point was that I'd rather see people buy Marlene's books than Charlotte Chandler's, and I actually am pleased to see something by Marlene competing against Chandler's dull fiction (by the way, does she even write her books?) in the eBook market. Of course, Maria's book is my favorite, and I have been awaiting its electronic release. Will we see that "author's cut" by the holiday season?

  2. This sounds awesome! I also want to get lost in the ABC clicking and clicking on babushka, dress (on a budget), eating, imagination, ketchup, love, potatoes, woman and zippers, but I dropped my e-reader in the bath tub :( something I wouldn't recommend anyone to do so!

    1. Oh, dear! I've dropped an iPod in a toilet, which I also wouldn't recommend! Karine, you'll just have to get lost the old-fashioned way, by flipping through the pages.

    2. Poor you!! I guess it must have been harder to pick it up once you dropped it. I only had to worry about being electrocuted or not. You perhaps faced other not to mention difficulties... ahum

      Back to the book! who's content is a gem in the printed and digital format :)

    3. Of course, when I read about you dropping your e-reader in the tub, I checked to see whether you could get electrocuted, but it fortunately doesn't appear very possible. I think your reader would have to be connected to your computer/laptop, which would have to be connected to an outlet for you to be electrocuted, but don't try to test my theory.

    4. The good thing was that if there was a chance to be electrocuted I wasn't in the tub yet. Stupid enough I lay the reader on the edge of the bath, who does that? I heard a little voice in the back of my head telling me that this might be asking for trouble, but I choose to ignore it... *sigh*