Monday, March 11, 2013

suddenly he had the strength of 10 grinches plus two

I know, I know, I am totally lame.  My fount of ideas for blog posts has run dry.  I think of little things, and then think that's not enough for a whole post, and then forget about them anyway.  But I will try to dredge a few of them up and nooge them together.  I thought I made up that word, but I figured I better google it to make sure it didn't mean something, ummmm....., un-family-friendly, and sure enough, somebody's already taken it.  Nooge:  "A person who's so crazy hardly anyone can stand to be around them," according to the urban dictionary. 

OK, just shut up.

So, first off, the end of the three-years-in-the-waiting post about that Rick DeMarinis story, which didn't fit with the last post, but still might be interesting.  The story is about this nerdy guy Dave Colbert-- if I remember right, he's a high school English teacher-- who goes camping with people who are athletic outdoors types.  You start out sympathizing with him, but then at the end, he's nuts. 

The thing that bugged me was that I've been that person.  I live in outdoor recreational heaven, but I am a nerdy wimp.  I know exactly what it feels like to go on a weekend trip with a bunch of hiking buffs and be the one who has to get all the gently-condescending encouragement.  They are always very kind and very supportive (unlike the bullying athletic guy in the story), but I definitely don't fit in. 

Don't misunderstand.  I love being outdoors, and I love to hike.  But I don't feel the need to hike 20 miles in a single day, and plenty of people around here do.  Six or eight miles works just fine for me.  In fact, 2-3 will do it--my idea of a good camping trip is going on a two hour hike every day and spending the rest of the time sitting by the lake with a good book. 

This is going to turn into an entire post by itself.  ha.  Never underestimate my ability to go on and on. 

So, back to the DeMarinis story. I kind of took it personally when this guy turned out to be a nut, because he was the one I sympathized with.  About two pages in, one of the reasons I was hooked into the story was to find out how he handled it.  Would these uppity outdoors snobs get shown up somehow by the nerdy lit major?  (please, pretty please?)  Would he figure out a way to use his literary understanding to interpret the experience?  would he somehow be able to validate a thoughtful life? (as opposed to an active one)

But no, he just has a psychotic break, and the bullying hikers end up looking like civilized gems compared to his violent outbreak.  He ends up being the textbook example of an unreliable narrator--which is why we were reading it in a creative writing class-- because once you find out he's crazy, can you trust anything he's told you?  It's a great story, and it stimulated a great discussion in class, but it disappointed me.

What I realized as I thought about it though, is that one of the main reasons I read is to learn.  How would Colbert respond?  I wanted him to figure out a way to handle the situation so that I could figure it out, too.  Does everybody do this?  Do you read to learn?  Or is it a product of my upbringing, reading the Bible and all those Christian fiction books that were barely disguised morality tales?  (and oh, how I loved them anyway.  I still have my tattered copy of The Mystifying Twins.)

Of course, not always.  Sometimes I just read for fun.  I'm re-reading the Southern Sisters mystery novels right now as my fall-asleep books and they are purely for fun.  But I think when I read a more serious book, I expect to learn something.  that sounds really uptight and moral-ly, doesn't it.  But there it is.


  1. I wouldn't say I read to learn so much as I read to empathize. I like to put myself in the shoes of others for a while. I read to understand, I suppose.

    But I'm mad at that author, too, even though I haven't read that book. Hmph.

    1. Another one of my main reasons for reading is to get out of my own head and be in someone else's head for awhile, maybe that is sort of the same as reading to empathize!

  2. I try to learn all the time. So reading falls in to that category for me. I am on a daily quest to learn more, or understand shit that confuses me.

    Dee, I admire your ability to empathize with others. This is one of the reasons you are such an amazing authour.