Monday, November 17, 2008

fine literature: confessions of an english major

i quote shakespeare.

i do. and i don't find him in the least difficult to understand.

i devour books whole. once i get started i can't put them down. i've always been that way.

i was an english major. and i loved it. juggling classes on the victorian novel, drama as a genre of literature, and the romantic poets was just my cup of tea. i read with highlighter in hand, marking passages that might be useful to me later on.

i am the kind of person who decides that the brothers karamazov would make a great addition to my summer reading list. and then really reads it while at the pool. a book that size casts a notable shadow across the tanning zone -- and i don't care. i wear it like a badge of honor.

as a literature teacher, i drive students batty pushing them to look deeper. look harder. look further. why did the author choose that name? what is the setting telling us?

i start to get all tingly and can barely keep from jumping out of my skin when i know that an author has managed to set up the mood for the entire novel in the first sentence -- or better the first phrase (i.e. steinbeck: "a few miles south of soledad...")! i've got goosebumps just typing that!

so when a friend recommends to me a piece of fine literature, i jump right on it. i'm not a library kind of girl (although it would save me a fortune). what happens if they don't even have the book i need? or if it's checked out & i would have to be added to a wait list? we all know that kafka, dickens, and bronte are flying off the shelves these days. so i usually head straight to the book store to pick up the priceless treasure.

searching through rows and rows of dusty, musty books is my own private indiana jones experience. looking for the holy grail of good reads. it's more excitement than should be legal.

just a few short weeks back, i was given such a recommendation from a friend upon whom i knew i could count for just the kind of book i would love. full of deep thematic elements. complex and dynamic characters. innovative style. perhaps even some philosophy or a profound life-truth buried deep within the lines.

i didn't rush right out to the book store to purchase it, not even sure i would be able to find time to read between diapers and baths and the rest of the chaos that is my life. but i soon found myself at walmart or target or some other all-purpose haven for one-stop shopping. as i wheeled the cart down the endless aisles, the sleek black cover of the aforementioned recommended reading drew my attention.

so i tossed it into the cart, in between a pack of sippy cups with lids the razorlike teeth of the little dudes would be unable to penetrate, and a box of cheerios -- food the whole family can love.

later in the afternoon, as the house grew quiet the way it only can during naptime, i opened up the book, and there it was. that tell-tale first sentence.

"I'd never given much thought to how I would die -- though I'd had reason enough in the last few months -- but even if I had, I would not have imagined it like this."


i knew it immediately -- had known it before i had even opened the book, really.

total trash.

and i loved every page.

to make matters worse (better?), the movie opens on friday.

i'll see you there!

1 comment:

Kelly said...

i was going to ask you... it's been recommended to me, too, and i just wasn't sure if it would be worth the read... nice to know the opin of a true professional. :)

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