My mom taught me to read when I was 5. "And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry St" was probably my first. Followed closely by another favorite, "Green Eggs and Ham". How much of my character development solidified from these early lessons? Do I still "Wish that I had Duck Feet"? That may be a defining trait of my psyche.
My mom also illustrated children's books. This was her career after art school. My early childhood was replete with literature. This developed in me through occasional reluctance an appetite for written stories. I sometimes think I don't spend enough time reading, or that I spend too much time watching programs or seeking fulfilment on social media. The truth is, I am a reader, and at times though it has felt like work to read a book, I hunger for it.
As I grew a peculiar thing happened to me. My reading comprehension outpaced my emotional maturity. It stayed like that for half of my adult life. I suppose, that's not at all uncommon in these United States. We push hard for education. We idolize the intellectualization of all pursuits.
I spent some years in the backlash of this, reading Henry Miller, Kurt Vonnegut, William S. Burroughs, and their ilk. I struggled to understand my feelings intellectually by reading writers who had lived out fantasies of resistance to logic. Action to remedy included what amounted to self-flagellate regression from acceptance. Adoption of an existential absurdist outlook was a band-aid.
Eventually I turned and faced it.
My choice of reading material reflects the change from self-centered paranoia to 'much bigger things.'
I've read a few by Thomas Pynchon, which account for some of the most beautiful grammar I have ever imagined. One thing Pynchon is to me that shines through in his characterization and storytelling, his stories are bigger than his personality. All of the psychological static and unrest of authors I read in my early twenties was absent in his work. One of the wonderful things about reading Pynchon is that I get no clear picture of Pynchon by reading his work.
I could talk books with you all day.
What are some of your favorite stories? Leave a comment down below.
As we move inexorably toward the beginning of the new western calendar year, I begin to look forward, just a little, to the end of this one.