Hejira

 

 

in which she talks about books

December 23. 2000

snow still:

front walk

*

 

Working at a large corporate bookstore (one that has left me considerable jaded when it comes to retail in general) has made me realize one thing: that there are alarming gaps in what I feel I should've read by this point in my life.

I was always an avid reader. I can't remember a time that I couldn't read. I was pretty precocious. I read Roots by Alex Haley when I was 10 or 11, and Les Miserables by Victor Hugo when I was 12 (owing to my obsession with the musical, but I skipped the long, unecessary tangents on such subjects as the battle of Waterloo). But recently I became aware that there are things that I, as a young white female, have not read that I feel I should. The big one is Sylvia Plath. Brilliant young poet kills herself, leaving behind considerable body of work. Something tells me I should be flocking to that sort of thing, but I have never read anything of hers beyond the few selected poems in my AP English book.

And the others..Jack Kerouac, Margaret Atwood, James Joyce (John loves Joyce, and must have about 20 Joyce books piled up next to his bed. Everytime I lie down I'm compelled to make the same lame joke: "So, you like James Joyce, huh?"), and many others that slip my mind. Hell, I have never even read The Lord of the Rings trilogy, though they are now looming large in my mind due to the upcoming movie, which I'm looking forward to, and the fact that John lent me one of his spare copies of the trilogy (I believe he must have about 4 or 5?) last February, which I have yet to read beyond Bilbo Baggins mysteriously vanishing at his birthday party. I feel like I should be dying to know what happens, but I'm not.

One thing that I have become aware of is that I love children's books. No, not Goodnight Moon or anything like that, but the ones that can be appreciated by adults as well. I am of a mind that Roald Dahl is an incredible genius. Matilda, The Witches, Boy, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator. The latter is the little known sequel to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, it involves Charlie, his two sets of grandparents, mother and father and Willy Wonka going up in space in the elevator and fighting the Vermicious Knids. Dahl's work is so weird and wonderfully surreal, the movie (Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory) doesn't even come close to capturing Dahl's imaginative prose and the world he creates in his books.

I also love all the Oz Books by L. Frank Baum. I read most of them when I was 8 or 9, and I'm itching to do so again. I'm hoping most of them will be easier to find (and perhaps in paperback?) now that it's the 100th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz.

No, I haven't read the Harry Potter books yet. The last few months at B&N it's been Harry Potter this, Harry Potter that, Harry Potter mugs, Harry Potter bookmarks, Harry Pottery posters, every child under the age of 10 read The Goblet of Fire in two days or less. I think I'm going to let the hype wear off before I tackle all those.

But browsing through the kids section has brought back so many dear friends and memories to my life. I am really just a huge kid underneath all this angst and supposed deep thoughts. I still derive a great pleasure from watching Sesame Street, watching all the old cartoons and skits and inside jokes that are still imbedded in my memory from 15 years ago. Part of me still wishes I could sit down and draw unicorns and dragons. That I could just quit worrying about all this dumb grown up stuff like phone bills and taking out the garbage and getting to work on time.

One Year Ago:
"On Monday, I finally met up with some of my friends from high school, and we hung out at a local coffeehouse, chewed the fat and listened to some chick butcher Joni's "A Case of You" for open mic night."