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reading this week: “11/22/63,” “The New Jim Crow” and finally finishing “Great Expectations”

May 3rd, 2012

Those of you who have been reading me for a while know how much i love Stephen and Tabitha King. They are gifted story tellers, funny people, and I just get a little pissed that they don’t get credit where credit is due.

Also, Stephen just published this over on the Daily Beast and it’s a good read. Hear, hear. I finished his latest, “11/22/63,” a couple of days ago. I read the last two chapters first thing in the morning, because I had read ’til late-late the night before and it killed me that I keep nodding off and couldn’t get to the last bit. (One more reason to get a Kindle: When you fall asleep and the Kindle slips out of your hands, it is not nearly as bad as beaning yourself in the head with an 800-pound, 800-page Stephen King book. Just sayin’.) I loved this book as much as “The Stand,” and there is hardly anything in life, with the exception of my husband and the kids, that I love as much as “The Stand.”

Then I got in a lousy mood for the rest of the day, because I didn’t want the book to end. Even though it was 800 pages long. It is not often that a book I love as much as I love “The Stand” comes along. In fact, this is probably it now, for the rest of my life.

When that realization hit me, then I got a little aggravated. Because I still have a few decades left, but really, what’s the point now? (Kidding. I might only have a few years left, who the hell knows when their time is going to come? Just ask the Kennedys.)

There you have it.

“The New Jim Crow” is excellent. Get a copy and please STFU about how we’re living in a “post-racial society” and how racism “isn’t a problem for me!” Yeah, maybe cuz you’re white and not in jail, didja ever consider that? The author worked very hard on this book and it is fantastic. I can only read a few chapters at a time — it’s a lot of stats and info to take in. But you need to read it, and buy copies to hand out to your friends and family, and your co-workers who need a clue.

Stupid things I’ve heard white people say:
“Race isn’t a problem anymore, is it?”
“Race isn’t a problem for me.”
“She takes the whole race thing a little too seriously.”
“They need to stop playing the race card.”
“Black babies are soooooo much cuter than white babies.”
“Maybe Pablo will bring us some more towels.”

And that was just members of my extended family I was quoting there, not the general public. Woooooooooooooooooot!

Now, on to Dickens, because why not? I am not even going with the segues, I’m in a hurry.

HOW I LEARNED TO GET OVER MYSELF AND START APPRECIATING CHARLES DICKENS

I’ve kind of never read Dickens, to be completely forthright with you. Yes, I was an English major, thanks for asking! (Focus on women’s fiction and contemporary writers. Also Shakespeare. The End.)

I kind of thought Dickens was a jerk. My ma was all “‘Tale of Two Cities,’ oh it’s the best book ever oh you have to read it!” etc. and throwing a copy of it at my head and knocking me unconscious. Parents, heed my words: It is generally the kiss of death for an author when a parent says, Best book evah! and recommends it to their kid.

(Duly noted.)

I loved that episode of “Cheers” where Frasier wants to educate the guys at the bar, and starts reading aloud to them, It was the best of times/it was the worst of times…

Cliffie is all, Boy, make up your mind, Dickens, which was it? And Norm is all, That Dickens, he really liked to cover his butt, didn’t he?

So Frasier gets creative and adds in “a bloodthirsty clown that rises out of the sewers” and the guys were all, You had me at bloodthirsty clown, fully engaged. And I was all, I (heart) Stephen King. (See: Review above.) My point…

It’s that damn Kindle. You can get Austen, Shakespeare, Dickens, and many, many others for free. Best of all? You don’t have to actually read the books. You can just look busy and important, oh yes, I downloaded “The Iliad” and “The Odyssey,” I believe I’ll tuck into those this weekend. Then I’ll polish off “War and Peace” after that. So. Who knows why, but I actually started reading “Great Expectations” a while back. I think I was feeling cocky cuz I finally got through “Anna Karenina.” (Brilliant, by the by.)

I tried reading “Oliver Twist” and “A Christmas Carol” aloud to the kids. No go. They told me they saw the movies, and my son recited the entire plot of “A Christmas Carol,” complete with crazy accents and his own interpretive dance, to us in the kitchen and that was that.

Turns out, Charles Dickens was something else.
Turns out, I love “Great Expectations,” although it’s taking me a bit longer to get through it than I thought it would, due to the fact that…
Turns out, “Masterpiece Theater” did a slam-bang mini-series of “Great Expectations,” which I accidentally (season pass on my tivo — blame “Downton Abbey”) tivo’ed
Turns out, I had to watch the whole thing, thus creating a little bit of a spoiler for myself. Whatever, it was so worth it.

Peeps, I am now a Dickens fan. Also am eighty percent through the book, go me. Dickens does his own variations on the bloodthirsty clown, quite nicely. Lovely, really. Yeah, you start throwing around the English-speak, once you’re enthralled in Dickens World. Where I want to go, by the way.

Yeah, the kids know all about him. There is no hiding my newfound love. This was me, tonight, to my son, who was complaining cuz I took his videogames away:

me: “Yeah, try being Charles Dickens, how about?”

my kid, laughing: “Dickens, heh heh…”

me: “You don’t have it rough, he had it rough. You know why? Cuz his dad went to prison. Cuz he didn’t pay his bills. And guess who went with him? That’s right. Dickens’s mom. And his little brothers and sisters, oh yes they did. How would you like that? And Dickens had to go work in a factory, even though he was only 12…”

my kid (already down the stairs, going to bug his sister): “Uh-huh.”

xo happy reading xo

wm

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