Have I mentioned before that I’m reading these all on a Kindle? As much as I can, anyway — there are rare exceptions. Storm of the Century comes to mind — I had to buy the book. But mostly, I read on a Kindle. It lets me highlight and take notes without making a mess or disrupting the story. I bought my very first Kindle in 2011, so two years after this story came out. And looking back through my Amazon orders from the time, one of my very first purchases for it was Ur. Everything before that looks to be free classics, but I paid $3 for this story. It was probably heavily advertised to me. If I hadn’t looked back through my purchases to see, I would have said that it came with the Kindle — that’s how I remembered it, anyway. But evidently, I just bought it.
That Kindle didn’t last long, I do know that. Broken screen. They fixed it once, then that one broke too. After that, I stuck with the Kindle app on my phone until… well, until I started buying Kindle Fires. Even then, as much as I liked them as tablets, especially for my homeschooled kids, the actual Kindle reading app never worked wonderfully on those. It was only relatively recently that I got back into using the Kindles as reading devices. Now, of course, I have a Kindle Paperwhite, Kindle Oasis, and Kindle Signature Paperwhite that I’ve been reading these books on. Plus a collection of Fires, mostly Fire 8s.
Anyway, as I understand the story, Amazon approached authors and asked them to write stories about Kindles for the Kindle. I don’t think they were marketed as Kindle Singles at the time, but that is essentially what they were. King said yes, and Ur is the result. It’s a weird little story. It’s partly a Dark Tower story, as we find out at the end. I think it also lays the groundwork for 11/22/63 — we haven’t covered that yet, but it’s coming up soon and you can definitely see some of those ideas here. It’s also partly a Kindle ad.
It’s not King’s best work by any means. The main character is pretentious as hell, for one thing. As a lifelong bookworm and book lover, I can sort of get behind him when he talks about books as his mistress — I wouldn’t say that myself, but I have referred to them as my first friends, and I stand by that — and when he says books are his Achilles heel. He loses me by calling his girlfriend illiterate just because she doesn’t share his reverence for a first edition, though. It’s easy to be snotty about being a READER when you’re a kid basically being bullied for always having your nose in a book and also knowing things out of books, but you should be over it by adulthood. Wesley isn’t, he’s still super snotty about it. Also, the phrase “tiresome technophobia” keeps coming up in my notes. Though this, at least, is still something I see as a person who likes e-readers. I mean, I get it, I like books too. But I also like having my entire library at my fingertips when and wherever, and also being able to lay in bed with a book like Under the Dome and enjoy it rather than breaking my wrist trying to hold up the huge tome. E-books have great advantages, it’s dumb to write them off because they don’t smell like a book or whatever. And King should really know better, he’s been doing the e-book thing for a while now.
I also don’t like that Wes’s girlfriend gets back together with him. He’s done nothing to earn it that she knows of (he did stop an accident from occurring that would have killed her, but she doesn’t know that.) They haven’t even talked. Ladies, don’t go back to a man who calls you an illiterate bitch because you disrupted their reading to try to talk about something that was bothering you. Wes is shitty. And Ellen, the girlfriend, is a cipher.
But the Dark Tower connections are fun, the Ur functions of the Kindle are fun, and the whole thing got me wondering what books Stephen King would have written in an Ur universe. Give me the chance to read those, and I would probably sit there and do nothing else until I got through them all.