“…burn, burn, burn, like fabulous roman candles, like spiders across the stars…”
I’m writing this post from an Internet cafe in Santa Fe, where I’ve come for a much-needed vacation (all that writing–196 pages so far!–and Dancing With the Stars Cardio Workout-ing wears a person out!). This morning I went to the museum at the Palace of the Governors, to see a display of the original manuscript–a 120 foot scroll, see pic–of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. It’s touring the country for the 5oth anniversary of publication.
When I was in high school, my friends and I considered ourselves quite artsy and bohemian, far above jocks and cheerleaders and their ilk! 🙂 We loved books like Tender is the Night (1920s bohemianism), Dharma Bums, The Journey to the East, and On the Road. Stories of free spirits living wild lives, wandering the world. Now, when I look at OTR, I see how tiresomely foolish the characters, Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty (thinly fictionalized versions of Kerouac and his friend Neal Cassady) really are. But I still like the crazy crash-up of sex, drugs, jazz, energy, and freedom. (Mostly because I only have to live it vicariously, then go back to being my boring self!!)
What were some of your favorite books in high school? How do they hold up for you now?
If you really want to hear about it, the opening sentence of The Catcher in the Rye changed my life, somewhere around my early teens:
If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.
As my husband said many years later, “I didn’t know you were allowed to do things like that in a book.” All that anger, all that… voice. It looks pretty tame now — which proves that it changed a lot of things then.
I loved Alas Babylon. That was pretty much it. I didn’t care for Death Be Not Proud, To Kill a Mockingbird, Huck Finn or Great Expectations. Part of that was the teaching method. Lots of worksheets about linguistics and speech patterns hardly made the books more interesting. Today, I love several of these.
As for the test of time: Alas Babylon is in some ways still relevant, but it is very outdated in others. The threat of nuclear attack and having to survive without a central government and so many of the amenities we have today is ever present. However, the sitation that leads to this and the social issues surrounding it are outmoded. Still, I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of roughing it – how would I fare? What would I contribute?
Two of my favorite books in high school–not that they were covered as part of our curriculum–were Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers. I read them in all the abridged and unabridged versions I could lay my hands on. The largest of the former book was a hefty 1300 pages. I adored the humor of the latter. I still think it is some of the best humor I’ve ever read.
Amanda, hope you’ll give us a travelogue of your road trip after you return. Have a ton of fun whilst you’re gone, and don’t forget to watch DWTS on Monday. 🙂
For me it was Jim Carroll’s The Basketball Diaries.
Even as an angry and confused teen I knew it was misogynistic and fairly stupid. But I tossed it in the cannon as fodder and pointed it at my face anyway. Ah, youth.
I loved Jane Eyre, and A Separate Peace, and To Kill a Mockingbird.
Ooh, and we actually read Rebecca in lit class. That was fun.
I’m just going by what we read in school, though. Too long to list everything I liked in my real life!