Thursday, June 11, 2009
High School Torture, Self-Inflicted
My usual M.O. at the Public Library is to stroll along the New Arrivals shelf, head tilted sideways, reaching for novels with intriguing names or cool jackets ("judging a book by its cover", as it were!) Every once in a while, however, I hear the High School Required Reading Section whispering to me, taunting me, daring me to inflict a Great Book or two on myself. Maybe deep down I feel prickles of guilt about choosing Harry Potter and teen-vampire novels over Literature. Maybe I want to make sure I still can decode and comprehend multisyllabic words and complex ideas. Whatever the reason, now that I am an adult--and not required by a teacher to discuss/evaluate/critique the novel-- I give myself permission to steer clear of the authors that gave me hives the first time around (Joseph Conrad, James Fenimore Cooper, William Faulkner, you know who you are...were...whatever, just BEGONE!) Anyway, on one of my recent forays I picked up The Handmaid's Tale, which I had heard of, but somehow missed during all of my school years. Book Report in 5 words or less: "it's a teacher's DREAM book." It takes place in a futuristic society in which there is war, religious persecution, a totalitarian government, and complete objectification of women as "vessels" to produce babies. I was nauseated, horrified...yet unable to stop reading. Now, having fulfilled my "duty" to stretch my brain and exercise my powers of analysis...I can joyfully return to the boy wizards and benevolent vampires whose company I prefer!