Sunday, February 15, 2009

A dyslexic day

Many years ago, when I was young and a bit of a snob, I usually only read things like Dickens or Dostoyevsky, with intellectual relief by reading my favorite children’s books aloud to then tiny Rebecca. Suddenly, exhausted by the intellectual rigors of graduate school, I realized that a whole world of trashy novels beckoned me, but I didn’t really have much info on the good ones, aside from my mother who was always pressing something or other horrible on me to read. Of course, I never read what she suggested. That would be way too uncool. I love scary novels such as Dracula and Uncle Silas. These were sanctified by antiquity and therefore not trashy. Even the trashiest of all - East Lynne - was old and therefore okay for a book snob to read. In my quest for good scary novels, a friend suggested that I try H P Lovecraft. I went to the library and got one, or so I thought. That evening, Dennis and I had one of our semi-annual set-tos, probably about something stupid. The ensuing argument usually would grow to encompass all the resentments of the previous six months and then would blow over and calm would reign for another half year. I seem to recall that this interaction had to do with a box of chocolates. No doubt someone had eaten more than his or her fair share. After bitter words were exchanged, he went to sleep and I settled in with my scary novel. I kept waiting for the ghosts to appear, but there was only silliness. Bertie Wooster trying to escape the wrath of Aunt Agatha, and Jeeves coming to the rescue. HP Lovecraft …. PG Wodehouse …. Almost the same thing, right???? I was lying there shaking with laughter, when Dennis woke up and asked, “Are you crying?” He seemed hopeful. “No, I’m laughing,” I said and told him what had happened. I read him some funny bits, and all was well again. Yesterday I was in the library looking for an audio book to listen to, and I thought, “Oh, Joseph Conrad. I haven’t read anything by him for a long time.” When I started the book, I was astonished and puzzled that it was talking place in San Francisco. “Huh?” I thought, and looked at the cover again. It was “The Sea Wolf” by Jack London. I had seen the boat on the cover, the sort of old look of it, and in my dyslexic way, leapt to a false conclusion. After all, in addition to being about ships, they both began with J. I am enjoying The Sea Wolf quite a lot, despite it not being by Joseph Conrad. And by the way – I still never have read anything by HP Lovecraft. And I realized that some of the books my mother gave me to read were actually good.

1 comment:

Knitman said...

Well, I never was into reading the highbrow stuff. I love Dickens-BBC productions of. I have just finished The Gargoyle which is a quite remarkable book. Another I have read and thought whilst reading it that it was 'literature(as was The Gargoyle) is The Lovely Bones by Alice Seebold. Now to be a film but I would read the book first.