Saturday, July 21, 2018

amazon power

I fear I am turning into  one of those guys with saliva dripping out of his mouth who wanders into a cafeteria with a shopping bag screaming about socialism. As Woody Allen put it.

A recurring theme on Mexpatriate has been how life in Mexico has changed in the ten years I have lived here. I won't even mention how much everything has changed since I first visited Mexico in 1971.

My part of Mexico does not offer much in modern amenities. The necessities of life are at hand. We have stunning landscapes and the time to enjoy them. Anyone who has lived in Pacific City, Oregon knows the pleasure of that life. And its limitations.

But, if I want to make major purchases, I need to drive to Manzanillo. Or Colima. Or Guadalajara.

And for the truly exotic (say, hardbound books in English), I reach for my laptop where Amazon provides a consumer lifeline to anyone who has a street address.

Last week, I was reading the latest issue of National Review. Several years ago, the magazine started publishing at least one poem in each edition. They are always quite good.

Over the years, I have had favorite parts of the magazine. My tastes change. These days, I turn to the poem first. Probably, because I have always admired the ability of good poets who can reduce the most complex of thoughts to a handful of words, It is a true art form.

In the latest edition, in addition to the poem, Nick Ripatrazone reviewed Ted Kooser's latest collection of poems, Kindest Regards: New and Selected Poems. I have read some of Kooser's work in the past -- and liked it.

I am tempted to describe his poems as accessible, but I know that some artists hate the term. As if communicating with the general public somehow degrades an artist's work. Personally, I agree with Marcel Duchamp: "The spectator completes the art.  The creative act is not performed by the artist alone; the spectator brings the work in contact with the external world by deciphering and interpreting its inner qualifications and this adds his contribution to the creative act."

Two sentences in the review summed up Kooser's work: "There's poetic restraint in offering us a well-drawn map without a required route. That requires patience, a little confidence, and a belief that poems can be about living rather than an explanation of life." That last phrase ("about living rather than an explanation of life") perfectly describes what I like about Robert Frost and Billie Collins -- two quite different poets.

And the phrase was enough for me to decide to buy the Kooser.

Most books are a snap to buy here. I open my Kindle, find it on Amazon, and press the buy button. In seconds, I am holding it in my hands.

But poetry and electronic readers are not a good marriage. Part of the art form of a poem is how it looks on the page. Most electronic readers cannot reproduce that look without making the font illegible.

The answer, of course, was easy. I could order the hardbound version of the book from Amazon.MX.

And, so I did. Along with a DVD of one of my favorite Christopher Nolan films: Memento, where I was first introduced to the breadth of Guy Pearce's talent.

This particular shipment was re-directed north of the border to parent Amazon. I suspect that neither of my two purchases was available in the Mexico warehouse.

I have become accustomed to my northern shipments taking two weeks to wend their way through the Amazon North process, the customs 
inspection (and duty payment) in Guadalajara, and the hand off to DHL, who then needs to process the delivery through its Manzanillo depot.

The estimated delivery date was next Saturday. Instead, the DHL delivery man was at the front door with my package on Thursday. And I am now sharing the tale with you. Both through the wonders of the internet that has truly changed a portion of life in this part of Mexico. Probably as much as the Montgomery Ward catalog did when it first arrived in Powers, Oregon.

I am on my way to the pool now with Ted Kooser and an iced glass of mineral water with lime to float and contemplate living life rather than explaining it.

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