Thursday, October 27, 2016

Time to get "lit"!

Fall is here, and that means ninth graders at my school are plowing through The Odyssey, tenth graders are trudging through The Canterbury Tales, and the juniors are pondering nature as they read Walden.  Meanwhile, I'm spending a lot of time reading trashy fanfiction.

To be honest, I re-read all the required novels and short stories every year, so that I'm always prepared for every question, questions such as, "Why do we have to read this?" and "Why did it take Odysseus so long to get home?  He's not that far away from Ithaca - I mean, can't he just look at the map?"  I think that after awhile, I get tired of reading things to look for symbolism and motifs.  I'd rather just be blown along with the story if the story is mildly entertaining.  Let's be honest, if you're constantly digesting lots of fibrous fruits and vegetables, you want a Twinkie.  At least I do.

In my review of the required reading, I've found that my perspective on these classic works of literature has changed as I've aged.  I had to re-read The Crucible last month, a play I've read two or three times and have seen performed.  Like most people, I felt heartsick at the end when John Proctor goes off to be hanged.  After my latest perusal, I noticed my feelings were less sympathetic (not about the hanging, because who wants that?)  But geez, John, you had an affair with a psychotic seventeen-year-old while your wife was sick, and you thought she'd just get over it?  And the investigating clergy never thought about why the girls would want to accuse so many pillars of the community?  Most people aren't that blind, or naive.  Hester Prynne never squeals on Dimmesdale in The Scarlet Letter and no one but her ex suspects, even though she's left on her own to raise a child in the community whose father doesn't even acknowledge her?  Either Hester has ironclad self-control or she has major self-esteem issues.  I would've ratted Dimmesdale out the second I knew I wasn't getting child support. 

Is it because I have a better understanding of human nature that I now see more flaws in character portrayals or logic?  And by that I mean don't get me started on Lord of the Flies.  There are so many things wrong with that novel that I don't even know where to begin.  (But if you're a fan, keep it to yourself, because I think you're wrong, and this is MY blog.)  Still, my "improved" understanding of human nature means I still think To Kill a Mockingbird is the perfect book. 

I think that's why I've been escaping into fan fiction.  I can overlook inconsistencies or chuck it if the story is lame, then just move on to something else.  My worry is that reading literary junk food might negatively affect my writing overall.  But that certainly can't happen, right?  RIGHT??