Electric Grandmother

Maggie Croft's Personal Journal young spirit, wire-wrapped
spark electric grandmother
arc against the night

-- Lon Prater
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it's a funny thing and talking books for the blind

It's a funny thing, really.

When I was young, my family and their friends piled up for my accomplishments. Graduated from kindergarten? Family went all out. First communion? Buy that kid a white dress, new underclothes, shoes, hat and purse, prayer book and rosery. Role in school play? Oh, we're all coming now, kid. Read all of Dickens by the time I was sixteen? Oh child, tell us all what you thought about David Copperfield.

And then I got into high school, and then I turned seventeen and something changed. My family dynamics changed, to start with, and suddenly I was a black sheep. (Welcome to small town Idaho.)

After a lot of difficulty (mostly due to the family situation and politics) I graduated from high school and no one really noticed. I didn't attend my graduation for two reasons: first of all, I thought it was a sort of silly thing to attend (I was such a rebel -- ha!) and also, I didn't think anyone would come, so what was the point in attending? I graduated from college (another big feat due to the familial, social, financial and health issues) and again, no one really noticed. Okay, that's not true. My MIL did (she gave me a card, a check and said that if I went through the line she and my FIL weren't coming), and my advisor sent me a congratulatory email. I got married and more people noticed, but we'll say that the majority of the guests at the reception were friends of the groom's parents. Now, all these things are okay. I don't expect everyone to stop and noticed and get all excited when I have milestones. But it does make it feel a little weird when I do something and don't expect anyone to care and they do.

A few months ago I started occasionally mentioning to people that I had a story in this fabulously cool little anthology. Ever since, I have had people in my life either wanting to see the story, see my copy of the anthology or know where they can buy a copy. Most recently, my mother (the biological one) of all people bought a copy from Clarkesworld.

My mother is legally blind. One eye doesn't work at all and the other one only works so so. She is very excited because, with the use of her special snifty magnifying glass, she can read Scattered, Covered, Smothered because of the wire binding Two Cranes Press used. If it had been perfect bound she would have had to have had someone else read it to her.

Which led to an interesting conversation. My mother is wondering what it would take to get the book put together as a talking book for the blind. (My mother gets said books.)
I told her I wasn't sure. I mean, would the Boise center be interested? It's sort of an odd little book (though so very cool) in terms of its contents (prose, poetry, recipes anyone?) and who would know of it to ask for it? Among other things. Also, what about copyright issues? I really don't know. BUT it did cause me to start thinking about the small press and talking books.

Small presses, like Prime, Nightshade, Small Beer, Wheatland, Two Cranes (of course), Eraserhead, and many others are putting out some fabulous books. Books that a lot of blind people might enjoy reading, but without the option of talking books may never have the opportunity. There's always options like podcasts and stuff, as well. But there's a lot of people who rely on the cassettes that come in the funny little green cases for their reading pleasure.

I wonder what it would take for some of these books to be read as talking books? I wonder if the individual state centers accept book donations? When I get rich (no, I am not holding my breath) maybe I'll start buying cool, unusual, uncommon books and donate them for talking books and to my local libraries.

I wonder what the future will hold for these little books. Will they continue to be made and used? Will there be a shift to things like podcasts for the blind? Maybe I should write a story.

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