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A tale of two books
By Gloria Diaz
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Fort Wayne Reader
I love to read. Iíve always wanted to read. I get edgy if Iím stuck in traffic, and I have nothing to read. I have books in the bathroom, for when Iím on the toilet. I have books in my bedroom, because I read right before I go to bed. There are books in my living room, and books in my car.
So Iím loving my literature class right now. Iíve been introduced to some interesting short stories, and some cool novels. But for some reason, I forgot to buy one of the novels weíre reading. I decided Iíd borrow it from the library and instead of marking the book, Iíd take notes on Post-Its.
Iím doing a project for another class, and so I decided to browse through the 5 for $1.00 rack at the main library for material. Even though I was looking (or supposed to be looking) for job-hunting and rťsumť books, I couldnít resist seeing what was up for grabs. I found a book that had been turned into a movie. Iíd seen the film, but Iíd never read the book. I knew this was dangerous. I really enjoyed the movie, but I had to read something for class. I decided Iíd read a little bit of the assigned novel for class, then dive into the book I was really interested in.
And I discovered I donít have willpower. The book I got for a quarter, Little Children, was luring me like a hungry fish with a particularly tasty bait in front of it. As much as I liked the movie, I liked the book even more. It had all those wonderful little details that movies donít have time for. I devoured it pretty much that first night, then I read it again. I wasnít surprised that I liked it so much, and the author, Tom Perrotta, also wrote Election, which was also turned into a movie that I loved. As with Little Children, Iíve seen the movie, but hadnít read the book. Iím sure Iíll love it. Iím not sure if it qualifies as literature, although Iím sure if you dig deep enough, you can find some literary-type themes.
The novel Iím reading for class, No Country for Old Men, is not doing it for me. When I first started reading it, I was reminded by Hemingway, whom I am not a fan of. This novel was also turned into a movie, but I had no interest in seeing it, and now, more than three-quarters of the way through the book, Iím still not interested in seeing the movie. Weíve seen clips of it in class, but itís definitely not a chick book. Iím having problems keeping the characters straight, and Cormac McCarthyís lack of apostrophes is making this more of an exercise in proofreading than pleasure.
I have a feeling this novel is going to be like The Great Gatsby was in the first half of the class. I read it in high school and didnít like it. I read it again in grad school, and I still donít like it. And Iím afraid No Country for Old Men is going to be the same thing. Not holding my attention, problem with whoís doing what to whom, and the ďdeeperĒ meaning of it all is not going to sink in.
Meanwhile, Iím wallowing in the pleasure of Little Children. Part of the reason why I saw the film was Jackie Earle Haleyís return to film. If you are of a certain age, youíll remember Haley as cool biker kid Kelly Leak in The Bad News Bears. The last time I saw him in a film was Breaking Away, and every so often I wondered what happened to him. In Little Children, he played a recently released sex offender, and while it doesnít sound like a dream part, it shed new light on Haley, who had been running his own production company in San Antonio, Texas. Out of nowhere, Haley took the part of Ronnie James McGorvey, and was nominated for Best Supporting Actor. It got Haley back into acting again, and I was glad of that. Iíd heard buzz that he was great in the part, and he is. Disturbingly great.
I sort of feel guilty for liking this book so much. But itís a glimpse into a Gen X lifestyle that Iíll never have a chance to live (and Iím glad about that.) But itís interesting and comforting to know that something youíve missed out on wasnít necessarily so cool in the first place.
And in the case of No Country for Old Men, I guess Iíll have to ignore the lack of apostrophes when it comes to the contractions, and wonder what that means. But if anyone asks me to ďcall itĒ when flipping a coin, Iím going to run for my life. Because Iíve read enough to know what comes next. Or, what could come next.