Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Sorry, went AWOL for a while.

I can't explain it, really. I got busy. I went to my favorite place in town and did some thinking:

Then I went to the movies again and did more thinking. And then I've been thinking all week long.

Well, I say I got busy, but what I mean is I just Went Inside. Another Jungian Introvert will understand that, the general public maybe not so much. But I needed some hermit time with just me, myself and I. I've been doing movies like mad lately, and they've been movies that have gotten into my head and started moving furniture, re-shelving my books and dusting around the nick-knacks, pushing them slightly out of alignment. I had to go inward or I'd have imploded.

Then I realized that I'm horribly under-read. My grade and high school literature experiences were decidedly Steinbeck heavy. For the record, I detest Steinbeck. If I never read another of his over-rated pieces of drivel again, it will be too soon.

Why the hateration on Steinbeck? Well, let's see. I read Of Mice and Men...four or five times, The Pearl twice and was threatened with The Grapes of Wrath until I was allowed to shape my own literary experience that year and spent the time reading off the shelves (and chose the Gothics; Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker, I discovered Ann Radcliffe) and wrote two term papers for my grade instead of taking tests, reading along with the others and writing only one.

The lack of variety, I realized, has stunted my growth. I thought all literature sucked because Steinbeck sucks, but that's not a valid comparison. Steinbeck is not all of literature and literature is not, thank God, only like Steinbeck.

I hadn't realized until I saw Midnight in Paris how little actual literary experience I have. I'd never read Fitzgerald, I'd never read Hemingway. I've never completed a Dickens novel, or an Austen book or any of the others my peers have complained about through the years. No Herman Hesse, no Somerset Maugham. No official Poe, no official Mark Twain. For the price my parents paid, you'd think I'd have gotten something a bit more sophisticated than the All Steinbeck Channel. So yesterday and today I've been trolling the libraries and bookstores, trying to find some new reading material.

Yes, that's an audio version of Austen up there. I have trouble with the language in Regency novels; if I have it read to me I understand it far better from vocal context than if I'm reading it with my eyes. I'm trying to translate the book, if you will. I might have to go that direction with Dickens. I'll give it one more go with Martin Chuzzlewitt, but if it's too bendy for my eyes to follow, we're going to try the audio book route.

The one you don't see in there is the one I read last night, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. That one I took a flyer on and bought, so it's now on my bookshelves. I actually quite liked it. He used language in a very pretty way, although his commas confused me. What can I say, I have a comma style. It may be right, it may be wrong, but it's my style.

Anyway, I started Hemingway this evening. My friend who went to MiP was right; the Hemingway in the movie spoke just like the real Hemingway wrote, and it's hilarious. Oh, it's a generational thing--sort of like in the movie The Maltese Falcon when Humphrey Bogart's character looks at another character and says (in what must have been menacing fashion in the day but now was just amusing), "I'll slap you 'til you like it." I had to shut the movie off at that point; you must see why.

So I'm starting some assigned reading this week. We'll see how long the kick lasts. I'd like to know if there's some kind of proper Literature I'd have liked that I've missed because of poor lesson planning and bad communication between teachers in my over-priced private schools.

Actually, it's kind of funny; I read Of Mice and Men twice in a row under the same teacher. You'd think she could have remembered something like that. I sure did. Blech.


adriene said...

Seriously? Twice? With the same teacher? How come nobody said anything? Or maybe she didn't listen...

That's actually the only Steinbeck book I've ever read, and I actually quite liked it. Mind you, I only read it once!

Enjoy your reading kick!

Silver Phoenix said...

Yes, seriously, twice with the same teacher. Granted, my classmates changed around me, but I got assigned the same teacher twice (it was in high school, so that would happen.) She may not have noticed and the others may not have read it the previous year or may have been looking for easy As (since they already knew the book.)