Do you remember those embarrassing games that other kids always wanted to play? Games like Truth or Dare? Well, here’s an embarrassing game for adults — for adults who read, that is. It’s called:
MY MOST EMBARRASSING OMISSION
Or, at least, that’s what I’m calling it until someone thinks up a better name.
To play it, you name a category of fiction or literature (or if you want, make it film or something else) that you think you should be well versed in….or want to be….or pretend to be….or are, except for one or two (or thirty) embarrassing omissions. Then, of course, you name the most shocking omission you can think of.
Yes! Humilitation all round! And great fun to play at home, in the car, or at an academic conference (if you already have tenure).
Okay. I’ll go first.
BRITISH LITERATURE: As you may have guessed by the laughing Albert Finney pictured above, I have never read Fielding’s TOM JONES. There are many other greats of British lit that I haven’t read, but I think this is the one I most WANT to have read.
DRAMA: I try to have a basic working knowledge of the great plays….but I confess I’ve never seen (nor read) Chekhov’s THE THREE SISTERS. (Um, and while we’re on the subject, I can say the same about THE SEAGULL, UNCLE VANYA, and all but the first act of THE CHERRY ORCHARD — which I was supposed to read in high school. Don’t tell Mrs. Johnstone I never finished it, please. It was a busy week.) So when fellow drama lovers start talking about someone always wanting to go to Moscow…or maybe it was St Petersburg…I just nod my head and try to look intelligent.
WORLD LITERATURE: If you include American authors, I’ve never read (drumroll, please — long list coming): LES MISERABLES, WAR AND PEACE, DON QUIXOTE, THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA, THE GRAPES OF WRATH, MOBY DICK, and so much more!
ROMANCE:Okay, this is perhaps my most embarrassing omission of all, given that I am making it in the Risky Regencies blog…. I have never read Laura Kinsale’s FLOWERS FROM THE STORM. Yes, I know it’s great. Yes, I’m sure I’d love it. Yes, I have meant to read it for years. And yes, when I’m around other romance writers (particularly Regency writers) I always pretend I’ve read it. But I’m confessing to you now. I haven’t.
As for MOVIES: Hmm…I haven’t ever seen ANIMAL HOUSE, or THE MALTESE FALCON, or … wow, I’ve spent far too much time seeing movies — I can’t think of many really embarrassing omissions. (Guess I know what I was doing when I should have been reading TOM JONES!)
As for SCIENCE FICTION TV & MOVIES: — I’ve never seen a single episode of DR WHO! (Doesn’t he looked shocked!)
Okay, there, now that I’ve begun — who here has an embarrassing omission to make??? 🙂
Cara King — www.caraking.com
Wow, I could be here all night listing the books I am embarassed never to have read. But I will spare you that pain. 🙂 Just to choose a very small sampling: I have never read CATCHER IN THE RYE (somehow avoided it in High School), WUTHERING HEIGHTS (ditto), or anything by John Updike or Saul Bellow.
Books I Have Intended To Read For Years But Haven’t Because Life Is Just Too Darned Short: ULYSSES and REMEMBRANCE OF THINGS PAST.
Plays: I’ve never seen or read anything by Eugene O’Neill.
Movies: I’ve missed a bunch of the classics, from LAWRENCE OF ARABIA to BEN-HUR.
Good Lord! I’m a cultural illiterate! What am I doing here??!!!
Todd and Cara,
You know nothing about being a cultural illiterate. I may have read Catcher in the Rye and Wuthering Heights, Les Miserables, and Moby Dick, but I’ve never read any of the others you mentioned. (okay, I have read Flowers from the Storm)
But here’s what comes to my mind of my most embarrassing omissions.
I’ve never read Gone With the Wind or Harry Potter or any of the House on the Prairie books.
And I’m totally embarrassed at how many of my good writing friends’ books I haven’t read – but I’m not naming names…..
Cara, I’m really surprised that you’ve never seen any Dr. Who episodes! 🙂
I’ve never read Moby Dick, either, and I’m proud of it! 🙂 And nothing by Faulkner, and very little by Hemingway. Somehow I fudged my way through high school American lit.
And, in romance, I have never read a Nora Roberts book.
I too have never read la Nora, but then I pretty much only read historicals . . . I’ve never read Flowers from the Storm, either. I think it predates my discovery of the romance genre (yeah, I’m a Jill-come-lately) and I’ve just never come across a copy . . . maybe I’ll track it down today as penance.
I’m pretty brushed up on my Brit Lit, but I’ve never read Pamela, and that seems wrong (love Tom Jones BTW I’ve got a fab 1862 edition that has been signed by all the previous owners when they finished it *GRIN*). I haven’t been able to get through The Romance of the Forest, either.
I’m terribly under read when it comes to drama. I’ve read everything Tom Stoppard has written (he is a GOD) but have yet to finish all the works of Shakespeare (those darn Henry plays!). I love going to see plays, but I don’t usually enjoy reading them.
I’ll admit up front that I see a lot of movies. I LOVE movies. I love Netflix. I love cable TV. Yeah, I’m a total philistine. Just watched Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story yesterday. Can’t recommend it enough. Very funny. Great costumes. Actually, the whole thing was very Tom Stoppard. LOL!
Oh, this is painful but here goes!
British Literature: I have not read any novels before Jane Austen and Sir Walter Scott. I am ashamed. Very ashamed. I am going to fix this. In fact, I’m going to post about it soon.
Drama: Well, I read 4 Shakespeare plays in high school. I even remember them. A little. I have seen many more plays as I have a season subscription to the local Cider Mill Theater. So maybe not reading more of that doesn’t make me too embarrassed.
World Literature: I’m hopeless, really hopeless. Read some American lit in school and hate to admit I disliked most of it. Sigh… Never read LE MISERABLES either. In recent popular books, I haven’t read THE TIME TRAVELLER’S WIFE, which friends have raved over. Going to read that soon!
Science Fiction TV & Movies: Not too bad on earlier Science Fiction TV (even caught some DR. WHO) but on the later stuff, well, my brother and sister-in-law have raved about both DEEP SPACE NINE and BABYLON 5 and I was in massive child-induced sleep deprivation while they were on. As for movies-abysmally behind, including the latest pirate films!
Romance: The problem with writing them is you meet all these great friends and can’t possibly read all their books. I do try!
Elena, blushing profusely
Oh, and now I am reminded of so many more things I haven’t read/seen!
Like Todd, I too have never read Ulysses, or Remembrance of Things Past. Or anything by Updike or Bellow (or almost any mid-to-late 20th century authors who don’t write genre fiction!)
Like Todd, I have never seen Ben-Hur or Lawrence of Arabia. (Or any of the Dirty Harry movies. Or On the Waterfront, All About Eve, Raging Bull, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Sophie’s Choice, Jaws, Rebel Without a Cause, There’s Something About Mary, or Anything with the Marx Brothers. I’ve only seen bits of Dr Strangelove.)
Diane — I can see why not having read the Harry Potter books could be inconvenient — nowadays, just about everyone has not only read them, they assume you have too!
And I think most of us romance writers know SO MANY other romance writers, many of whom we call friends, that it’s impossible to read all their books! (Which doesn’t stop me feeling bad about one or two or more authors who I haven’t actually read *any* books by….surely feeling guilty is just as good as actually having read the books???)
Speaking of Hemingway, Amanda, now that I think about it, I only ever read one or two of his short stories — no novels at all. The closest I came was reading the beginning of The Sun Also Rises in AP English (sorry again, Mrs. Johnstone! I meant to read the rest!) And I never read a complete Faulkner. (3/4 of Light in August — sorry, Mrs. J! — and 1/4 of The Sound & the Fury — okay, let’s just assume that every single time I mention a book, I add an apology to Mrs. Johnstone…)
I sympathize with you on the Henry plays, Kalen — never had the nerve for the Henry 6’s myself….though as I’m going to Stratford in a few weeks to see all three Henry 6’s in one day, I will hopefully read them all by then!
It is, after all, one of my life goals to have seen and read all of Shakespeare’s plays… And I’m actually most of the way there. (I’m only counting the ones in my college Shakespeare book. More recent additions such as Some Number of Noble Kinsmen DO NOT COUNT.)
BTW, I LOVED the movie Tristram Shandy!!!! Weird, bizarre, etc, just as the book deserved — and with a childbirth scene I think Elena would approve of. 🙂 (BTW, I never read the book. Or, in fact, ANYTHING by Richardson, Fielding, Smollett, or Sterne. Or Gaskell. Or George Eliot. But who’s counting.)
BTW, Elena, Babylon 5 was great! And so was most of Deep Space Nine. And did you seen any Farscape? Or Firefly? 🙂
I’ve never read A Tale of Two Cities, Wuthering Heights or Anna Karenina – just to start 🙂
Ooh, I’ve never read Tale of Two Cities either, Tess! Or David Copperfield. 🙂
Or Anna Karenina, for that matter. And while we’re on the subject, I’ll just make a complete confession that I’ve never read any Russian novel, except for 3/4 of Crime and Punishment. Which I loved. But we had one week to do it in AP English and I ran out of time. (Sorry, Mrs. Johnstone!)
(who feels her A being revoked even as she types)
Ooo, they made us read A TALE OF TWO CITIES in high school; I think the reasoning was something like, “It’s a Dickens novel, only short.”
BTW, Kalen, did I mention that I *love* your cover???
As an English major in college, I managed to avoid American literature – except one course in Black Lit, reading Richard Wright, for one. Glad I took that course, but I, too, have never read Faulkner. I started reading For Whom the Bell Tolls by Heminway when I was too young for it and I realized it and put it away. Did read Tristam Shandy, Canterbury Tales, but not Pamela…..
Here’s a biggie.
I’ve never read Da Vinci Code!!!!!
I read Pamela on my honeymoon.
I’ve never made it past the first page of Ulysses. Never To Kill A Mockingbird, never seen ET, nor Titanic, never pulled an all-nighter at college, never read Jude Deveraux or Judith McNaught. Or Nora Roberts.
Hm. What else? Never socks with sandals, never pink toenail polish (black, and blackish red, yes, of course!), ALWAYS have a bookmark. Never Moby Dick. Life is too short.
I’ve read Faulkner, Hemingway, Dickens, O’Neill, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, didn’t like Les Miserables (book or play–walked out halfway through), never seen reality TV, except Project Runway.
Good post, Cara!
I read Pamela on my honeymoon…
Methinks there’s something of a story in there, because I hadn’t heard that honeynoons were all about catching up on long famous British novels.
Must be why I never got aroud to Moby Dick.
So many I haven’t read–nt sure where to even begin to begin.
What I do know is that every work of great literature (except Austen, Dickens, and all Romance) I read while under the influence of various professors in either prep school or college.
An adult life has not yet been conducive to dipping into great works of literature. Maybe I need another honeymoon.
I was going to read a lengthy British novel during my honeymoon, though I wasn’t sure which one; but when my wife found me in bed with Pamela, Clarissa, Emma and Rebecca, she became a trifle upset.
Well, when it comes to the lit sections. . . I can probably narrow it down to the books that we did in high school that I was actually supposed to read but didn’t and fudged my way through the tests. 🙂 I was good during the summer, but during the year, not so good. Well, I liked Shakespeare, so I did read his.
Movies, well, the first to pop in my mind was that I’m the one person who hasn’t seen Titanic, Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter, and I intend to keep it that way. LOL 🙂
Romance though. . . that’s too tough at 5 in the morning. Gotta think on that one. 😉
I haven’t read The Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. This seems a really horrible thing to me, especially since I know it’s a highly unboxed work.
I also haven’t seen The Matrix.
Megan, I just talked a bit about Project Runway on my own blog, and my mania for a bottle of that new Chanel Black Satin polish! PR is also the only reality show I’ve ever watched, so I am way behind on pop culture. Have never seen ET, either, or Jaws, or lots of things like that. I have seen Titanic a few times, mainly to covet the costumes. 🙂
And my family made fun of me for reading “Brothers Karamazov” in Hawaii. I should have tried “Pamela”… (I love Russian lit, also Greek drama. Don’t want to know what this says about me!)
Hmmmmmmmm, I’m a huge Bulgakov fan . . . what does that say about me?
I never saw Titanic either – hated the Celine Dion song and didn’t particularly want to see a movie wherein the hero dies.
Things I have read – Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar, Ivan Denisovitch, Camus’ The Stranger (in both languages) and lots of Hardy.