If you check the scrapbook you’re keeping of my columns, you’ll recall that last week the Cool Kid described his determination to read a book from right to left, bottom to top, instead of the same ol’ same ol’ left to right, top to bottom.
As per my habit, I succeeded.
Of course, I didn’t want to make things too difficult for the Cool Kid. That’s Mrs. Cool Kid’s job. So the book I chose for the experiment was “Sjambak” by Jack Vance. And by book, I mean novella. And by novella, I mean about 30 pages long. And by long, I mean short. And by short, I mean not what this paragraph turned out to be.
I downloaded the ebook version, opened my Kindle app and slid that page-moving button to the end. I started with the last word in the story and made my way left and up.
Here’s how the first two paragraphs read:
Murphy. said “in, came I where is This.”
“Singhalut! on allowed explosives or weapons no Important: disembark. now may Passengers quarantine. through passed just have We passengers. all Attention” on. turned loudspeaker A
See how you can kind of make out what each sentence means?
But after a while, you lose reference -- if not your mind.
I read two pages and knew it wasn’t going to work. It was more confusing than a bachelor’s silverware drawer.
But the Cool Kid wasn’t going to give up.
Giving up is for giving-uppers and lead actors on “CSI.” Come hell or Hiawatha, I was going to read it the weird way.
So I thought about it for a while, took a nap, discussed the food chain with Little Man (my rat terrier) and suddenly I had the answer.
I turned on my iPad’s rotation lock and flipped the tablet 180 degrees. Now I could read “Sjambak” from the beginning, but also right to left, bottom to top.
Of course, the letters were all upside down now. But it really wasn’t that hard to read.
Don’t take my word for it. (In fact, I’d encourage you to keep your hands off all my stuff.)
Try it yourself, O Best Ones. Flip your newspaper. Or if you’re reading online, stand on your head.
See what I mean? Tricky at first, but the brain adapts.
I read the whole of “Sjambak” that way.
And it made perfect sense.
The novella, I mean.
Not my reason for doing all this.
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