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As eager as I was to leave and get on with the business of paying off student loans instead of accumulating them, I miss my university days. One of the primary reasons is that as an ex-English major, I no longer have that direct and forced access to books to feed my hunger for intelligent, entertaining literature, and it’s more difficult to keep on top of what’s out there that might appeal to me. So many of my favourite authors are either not writing fast enough to keep pace with my reading, or dead, and therefore not as prolific as they used to be. Now I must rely on the kindness of strangers and friends for their recommendations, which are often hit and miss.

A recent hit, and one of my new favourite books, is The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (see August Random Reviews). So I was thrilled to discover that not only can I catch up with Niffenegger’s other book, The Three Incestuous Sisters: An Illustrated Novel, but there’s more, if you’re in the know. Thanks to Amazon’s new Amazon Shorts program, Niffenegger’s short story “Jakob Wywialowski and the Angels” is exclusively available there in electronic format for the whopping price of 49 cents. (Well, 49 cents U.S., but still a bargain for Canadians, too.) For some reason – probably something boring and legal – these shorts are available only on the site, but there are no shipping costs to worry about. The file is stored in your “Digital Locker” at Amazon, but you can also save and print as a PDF or text file.

Of course, another great feature of Amazon (and really, they’re not paying me for this public service announcement and I’m not an affiliate), is that I can see that customers who bought The Time Traveler’s Wife also bought The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon, which were also recommended to me by real-life people and are now on my to-buy list.

To give credit where it’s due: It’s quite possible that I live in a cave, but the only reason I stumbled across this treasure trove of bite-sized fiction and non-fiction is through the blog of screenwriter John August (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Corpse Bride, Go). His friend Daniel Wallace, who wrote the book Big Fish: A Novel of Mythic Proportions, is one of the writers with material available as an Amazon short.

(Cross posted to Blogcritics)

“The greatest gift is a passion for reading. It is cheap, it consoles, it distracts, it excites, it gives you the knowledge of the world and experience of a wide kind. It is a moral illumination.”
Elizabeth Hardwick