Monday, May 12, 2008

Why Do We Have to Read This Crap Anyway?



Okay, confession time. I was a closet geek in high school. Well, okay, maybe I wasn’t so much in the closet as I might think. Sure, I played baseball all through high school and I even played football for one year before I realized that football is the modern equivalent of the gladiatorial games – and I wasn’t the lion. So I had my cool clique to hang out with. I wasn’t the kind of nerd that did extra credit trigonometry problems nor was I on the chess team or the kid with the clich├ęd pocket protector. But I was a kid that loved to read.

Hey, I was 16 – it wasn’t cool to “read” anything that wasn’t glossy and had half clothed to mostly unclothed women in it. But I did. And I liked it. And I don’t think anyone at my high school but Mr. Macmillan knew how much I like it. He could tell. He could see the signs. All of us in the literature cult know the signs. I bet some of you in the audience know the signs.

And although I haven’t reread many of those novels we read back in Advanced Literature, I do remember them. I remember the feeling they gave me. The feeling of power. Of understanding human nature just a little bit better – at a time in life when all of human nature and motivation was a snake ball to me. I still haven’t figured out why Lisa Ackerman hated me. But I’ve gotten over it...

Anyway, the books were my friends – closet friends – but good friends nonetheless. They got me through some weird times and I’m thankful for their service – then and now. Because just as they taught me lessons back then, they teach me lessons today. Like I said, I haven’t reread most of the classics, but they’ve stuck with me as I pull together stories and ideas and themes and plots and all the other building materials that make up a novel.

So 20 some odd years later I say, “Here’s to you good and noble friends! Thank you for being there – then and now!”