The Score – Richard Stark – Reading on a Cell Phone

By Jason McClain (@JTorreyMcClain)

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always enjoyed curling up with a book.  I start to delve into the words in a novel and the world around me can cease to exist.  I’ll forget to eat.  I’ll forget to drink.  I’ll forget to go to sleep.  I’ve stayed up until six in the morning to read and I’ve given myself migraines.  I don’t notice those things building in me and around me because from page to spine to page and then the turn, I’m in a completely different world.  My focus doesn’t stray beyond that rectangle of beige with the slight shadow in the middle.  The voices of the parents, the rumble of my stomach, the sounds of the world around me all fade away.

I wondered if it would be different when I started to read books on the Kindle app on my phone.

I picked up several free classics, thinking it would be good to never be farther than my pocket away from good literature.  Still, after reading a little of a couple different ones, the fear of running out of battery life and the simple brushing motion needed to turn the page just didn’t do much for me.

Then I read a blog post by Keith Law regarding a promotion by Amazon for Richard Stark’s The Score.  I figured, why not, another free book, I still got plenty of storage on my phone.  (It’s not like it’s a 5 1/4 floppy disk.)  I downloaded it and set it aside.

Then one day, I was without a book.  I didn’t feel like paging through Twitter.  My inbox was bare.  I’d responded to all my texts. I figured, heck, Keith Law liked The Score, let’s give it a try.

I now can say that good books trump all.  It doesn’t matter that it is on a phone, or an iPad, or a Kindle or a paperback or a hardcover from the library, it’s still a book and a darn good one.  It captures you and makes you want to keep flipping electronic pages.

It opens from the viewpoint of Parker, the protagonist, as I am loathe to use the word “hero” for a man that has a shady background and has made a habit of breaking the law.  Still, we sympathize with him.  He knows his business and he knows it well. We see how he sees.  We add up all the angles along with him.  Things sound good.

Until they don’t.

The first two sections cover the planning of an intriguing caper that has no way of working.  You read it through the eyes of Parker.  However he’s so competent, you realize that it can’t go any way but right.

Then comes section three, my favorite part of the book.

Each chapter of section three comes from a different viewpoint.  A different part of the caper and someone else’s story and you realize that the world just got a lot more complicated and is a lot less under control.  Parker is only one man and as smooth as he is, he can’t be with everyone at once.  So they have to go it alone.  Alone without Parker is no way to go in this world.

It’s an amazingly quick read, it is simple prose and that is what makes it so lovely.  Making every word count, the reader gets to know each person and feel the tension in each terse sentence.

I love a good book.  I love a simple book that tells a simple story in simple language and creates a masterpiece that keeps you diving back into the electronic images that peel off before your eyes on a device that used to keep you from books unless the person you were talking to could be easily fooled by repetitive “yeps.”  Now, my phone connects me back to literature and to those words that make me forget all that is around me and that can be a wonderful thing.  Unless you’re the person talking to me and I seem too agreeable to be true.

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