Hard on the heels of Mizzy and the TV-Tones, our local paper has asked us to wax autobiographical, and list the three "best books your high school English teacher made you read." Now, far be it for me to indulge in self-absorption [INSERT GIANT SLOBBERING ALL-ENCOMPASSING SMILEY EMOTICON HERE]; still, I took a shot. And while I left out all kinds of things--the poetry of John Donne, a pleasant smattering of European short stories, The Screwtape Letters and Metamorphosis (although the last two don't count; I found them on my own in my high school library--a cool cover has often helped me judge a book, old saws to the contrary notwithstanding)--I think the ones I picked reflect genuine eye-openers as "I traveled in the realms of gold," back at the mid-point of High Late Adolescence.
At 17, I shouldn’t have been ready for a play about the madness and despair that can come with age; but the heart-breaking degradations of Lear’s situation—whether or not of his own making—compelled me to open my eyes to the “primal sympathy” we share in suffering.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
For better or worse, since reading about Huck and Jim I have been convinced that the best stories depend on journeys, from On the Road to Lord of the Rings—and back to The Odyssey and forward to Star Trek.
A Clockwork Orange
A rough ride, but hey, it was 1974, and what better time to read a book that brutalizes not only youth but also the forces that seek to suppress youth?
I can remember hearing about James Earl Jones as Lear--maybe I even saw it, on Great Performances. It seems 1974 wasn't so bad after all.
Thursday, August 30, 2007
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