What could be better for an author than to read, read, read? This is how I justify my long hiatus from a page a day of my own books…by reading and writing essays about other masterpieces.
My son is enrolled in English 1A and being the good mom that I am, I wanted to read the required reading list so he and I could have meaningful and provocative discussions about these extraordinary selections. And have we EVER! Truly it is every parents dream come true—especially parents who write—to have insightful, intellectual dialogues with a teenager about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as inspired by Dai Siiji’s Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress. Exploring further, I suggested he read The White-Haired Girl, by Jaia Sun-Childers for a memoir perspective on
For extra credit he read A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Kahled Hosseini, the sadness he felt made me want to cry. Every day we wake up in
Fight Club was a great read as well. The black humor…the plane food…the consumerism as religion. Yikes. And the juxtaposition of
Imagine Tyler Durden on
The last book in the curriculum is A Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood, another classic I had not read. Although written 20 years ago, the parallel to our involvement with
Steven hasn’t finished A Handmaid’s Tale yet, so a stimulating discourse is yet to come. Oh, but it will, along with the previous literary jewels to fuel our spirits.
Gail McCallum put together an engaging and highly commendable course of study: Great books, complementary themes and contemporary issues to seize the attention of students old and new.
As a writer, studying these gems, I see again and again the tight, economical use of the words. Only the most accurate will do; embracing the intellect of the reader, propelling the story to its climax, the pay-off for the vested reader, culminating in a sound resolution and the sad, yet final, ‘The End’.
Self-determination is recurrent theme in my own books. Like Luo and the Narrator, in Balzac…, Eloise longs for the formal education denied her. She does not wish to be defined by her possessions as Tyler Durden fears his generation is, but rather by her acts. Most certainly, like Offred and the other Handmaids, Eloise refuses to be a broodmare for the nobility. Facing poverty, disinheritance or imprisonment, Eloise never gives up the belief that she, that women, deserve a voice, too long denied, in the human chorus.
I may never see my books as college curriculum. A bestsellers list is more to my liking. Having a philosophical heart to heart talk with my second born over the virtues of some of the great books of our time…priceless. (Tyler Durden is rolling over in his virtual grave)