Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Why Reading Annoys Your Family.

Because it causes mental derangement and emotional instability. Also, there are bad parts.

I hope you don't find yourself on Dr. Phil. Unless you're weird in a funny way that I might enjoy. I like hoarders, as a tip, although they are annoying. I also like compulsive shoppers, because they make me feel better about my Walmart ways. The happy fact is that the majority of us won't qualify to join the Mentals of Melrose. We're mostly fine most of the time.

And then we start reading That Book, and it all goes horribly wrong. Which book? That really good book, the theme of which is Everything That Hurts. Not just what hurts the characters, but what hurts the reader.

It might be the book that peels off your carefully-maintained illusions, exposes the hopelessness of your dreams, the pettiness of your pre-conceived notions, or just gets a thumbnail under the scab that covers your childhood. Trivial concerns, certainly, but you are suddenly completely exposed to plenty of pain you weren't expecting.

I'll give you two examples, but if you think I'm going to explain why these two do me in, you have another think coming: Death of a Salesman, by Arthur Miller, and The Big Rock Candy Mountain, by Wallace Stegner. I'm only a sixth of the way through the latter, and I expect to be a jelly by the time it's done.

Be kind to your families and friends. Be aware if what you are reading is wrecking you. Remember that you are visiting and living in a world they aren't, even if they did once. If your reading is damaging your real life, take a break from that book. Join that real life already in progress. Those folks miss you when you're gone.

The Big Rock Candy Mountain will always be there waiting for you. Somewhere.

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