That’s right. THIRTEEN, BABY!
Oh yes I did.
What, y’all thought 13 was something else?
I can only dream…
My final hurdle challenge from the Challenge was #7:
The chief difficulty Alice found at first was in managing her flamingo: Read a classic book you’ve never read and always meant to.
I had trouble finding a classic that I had a) never read AND b) wanted to read.
Not that I’ve read all the classics, far from it. I have read my share. After all, I did have a liberal arts education, and read the usual English and American literature in high school and college, and some more as my kid was reading them in school. I read a lot of classics on my own, too. In junior high, I was obsessed with Russian classics.
“War and Peace” and “Crime and Punishment” at thirteen. At first of course, just to be able to say I did. I also memorized “The Gettysburg Address” and other things on my own, so that I could recite them. Which I did. At the drop of a hat. I was a very obnoxious 13-year-old. But I digress…
And my family – bibliophiles all – threw lots of classic books at me.
Mostly missing my head, thanks for asking.
But no matter how often one drinks from the ocean, one can not drain it. I’m certainly not claiming I’ve read all the classics, or most of the classics, or even the modern classics, or all the books a person “should” read in their lifetime, or even all the books I think I “should” read…
The difficult part was finding a classic book I wanted to read.
I ruled out all depressing books, which takes out a huge swath of classics right there. With me defining “depressing” rather broadly. “Silas Marner” nearly did me in in high school, and I’m already none too steady in the “cheerful and sane” area lately.
So no sad books. Nothing that would put me over the edge.
And there are authors that I really didn’t want to read. Dickens, for example. I have read enough of his works to know that, due to some defect of my own, I do not really enjoy his books. And yet, I have yet to be jailed for this offence.
Anna-Liza and Marin both recommended “Vanity Fair” , so I checked it out of the library.
And I tried. I really did.
I read 300 pages before I threw in the towel.
I just wasn’t in the mood, or I wasn’t getting it, or… I don’t know. So I had to stop.
I recently resolved that I will stop reading a book I’m not enjoying. This is huge for me.
To continue this digression: Y’all have no idea how many books I’ve finished even though I knew in the first 50 pages that I didn’t like it. Or the first 20 pages.
And I’m not talking about required reading for school – I managed to get through all of those books, although “Moby Dick” required tremendous discipline. (What can I say, the menz were distracting me. But I digress within my degression.)
Sometime in my shady past – as a kid I suspect – I must have decided that I had to finish every book I started. Including books I hated.
I have finally given myself permission to STOP.
Okay, digression over.
I read “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” by Truman Capote instead. Because of this short novel, Norman Mailer called Capote “the most perfect writer of my generation.” I see why. And of course, the film of the same name with Audrey Hepburn was loosely based on the novel.
The book I checked out of the library also has three short stories in it. They are amazing. I highly recommend it.
Which is not to say that I’ll be reading “In Cold Blood” but I might give some of Capote’s other works a go.
A few weird side notes:
Capote was in Neil Simon’s 1976 mystery spoof Murder by Death.
He appears briefly as himself – uncredited – in Annie Hall.
He’s also famous for his masked Black and White Ball.
That’s what she said.