Baboon Pirates

Scribbles and Scrawls from an unrepentant swashbuckling primate.

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Location: Texas, United States

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Long-Overdue Book Meme

Doan Be Readin' Dat Fiction! Thass All LIES!!

For some reason, I'd been avoiding this meme, which has been circulating the blogs for a while. Army of Mom's been a good sport about me leaving snarky comments on her blog, so when she tagged me, I knew I'd have to go along...eventually. I think she tagged me a coupla weeks ago!

1) A book that changed my life reading habits:

Robert A. Heinlein's 'Orphans Of The Sky'. First science-fiction book I ever read, at the tender age of maybe 9. OK, that, and Dad's box of 60's vintage Playboys he kept in the basement. Talk about opening up brand new worlds of mystery and adventure...

2) A book I've read more than once:

I've got a library of close to 3000 books, and I'll reread just about anything that strikes my fancy. Sometimes, I'll be trying to remember a particular passage, pull down the book, and end up rereading it.
I read Frank Herbert's 'Dune' at least once a year. Tolkien's 'Lord of the Rings' every few years, and I'm constantly working my way back & forth through my shelf of every one of Louis L'Amour's westerns.

3) A book I'd take to a desert island:

The Boy Scout Manual. It's an pretty good survival guide, and the sections you don't need for reference make good firestarting material when you run out of coconut hulls. You can use the section warning boys about not jerking off for buttwipe.

D'ya ever think about that phrase "desert island"? Anyone ever see one? Most times, when someone says "desert island" you picture a tropical island surrounded by blue water, a bunch of coconut palms, maybe a craggy mountain or two. Some parrots making that "OOO OOO OOO AAAH AAAH AAAH!" sound in the background... You never see "desert island" referring to a land mass rising out of the water, with a broad plain of sand, some dunes & cacti, maybe a camel or two. Maybe they mean DESERTED island...

4) A book that made me laugh:

Just about anything by PJ O'Rourke. Dave Barry's too goofy, George Carlin's too bitter, and Scott Adams is too depressing. O'Rourke can be laugh-out-loud funny, and still make his point.

I'm quite fond of Joan Hess's Arly Hanks mysteries. Her descriptions of small Southern town hijinks are usually good for a giggle.

5) A book that made me cry:

The World Book encyclopedia, the "S" volume. Dropped it on my toe when I was a wee pup. Hurt like hell. OK, in all honesty, I don't think a book's ever made me cry. I've gotten cold chills, I've gotten so mad I've thrown books down, and every so often I'll read something that hits me so hard I have to set the book down in order to walk away and gather my thoughts. I've gotten sniffly in movies, but not from books.

6) A book I wish had been written:

A sequel to Louis L'Amour's 'The Walking Drum'.
An effective diet book that doesn't include any variation on "eat less" and "exercise more".
A self-help book that'll teach me to quit obsessing over past failures, eff-ups and fruitless endeavours.

7) A book that should never have been written:

Let's assume we're practicing prior restraint, and not censorship of an existing work. I don't approve of censorship, so I'm gonna approach this from a different angle. In other words, which books would the world be better off without...

'Das Kapital', 'Mein Kampf', 'Protocols Of The Elders Of Zion', The Koran, 'Quotations from Chairman Mao TseTung' (aka Little Red Book), 'The Communist Manifesto', 'Silas Marner'... the list just goes on and on.

8) A book I'm currently reading:

'Smoker' by Greg Rucka. Kind of like that Big Tobacco courtroom movie that Russell Crowe did, only this time Big Tobacco uses assassins instead of lawyers to take care of witnesses.

9) A book I'm planning to read:

All future works by Bernard Cornwell, Wilbur Smith, Randy Wayne White, John Ringo, Joan Hess, Lindsay Davis, James Burke, John Scalzi, David Weber, Dewey Lambdin, Alexander Pope, and a few dozen others.

10) Five people I'll send these questions on to (also known as who can I burden with one more thing to do today):

I'll pass. Instead, I'll explain my obscure subheading.

I'm in my local branch of the public library in the mid-eighties. I was probably a junior or senior in high school, doing research on a term paper. See, kiddies, back in the day, we didn't have that Interweb for lookin' up facts. We had to know how to drive a card catalog, use the interlibrary loan system, and know what a Guide to Published Works was.

I'm sitting at one of the study carrels, when I'm distracted by a mild ruckus. You wouldn't think you'd get a mild ruckus in a library, but they happen more often than you think. I look up to see a rather rotund woman applying a plus-sized palm to three kids simultaneously. She's got two of them by the wrist with her other hand, and a third is smooshed up against the checkout counter by a hefty thigh.

While she's flailing away, she's also separating out the books her kids have selected, putting some in one stack, and dumping the others on a library cart. I marvel for a while at her multitasking ability, and, always looking for an excuse to delay studying, watch the mild ruckus.

The kids kept trying to add more books to the checkout pile. Any selection not meeting editorial standards got tossed out, with a backhand across the butt for luck.

'Your Wiggly Friends, The Snakes'. Into the checkout pile.

'Charlotte's Web'. Rejected. Kid whines. SMACK!!!

'Your Toothy Friends, The Sharks'. Into the checkout pile.

'Little House On The Prairie'. Rejected. Kid whines. SMACK!!!

'The Lorax'. Rejected. Kid whines. SMACK!!!

'U.S. Presidents'. Into the checkout pile.

'Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry'. Rejected. Kid whines. SMACK!!!

I began to see a pattern forming. All the books she's keeping are nonfiction, either nature-related, or those abysmal history books we suffered through as kids. All the fiction was getting tossed.

I'm wondering about the mom's choice of what goes and what stays, and she suddenly made her point abundantly clear, in a booming voice.

"I done tole y'all enuff! Doan be readin' dat fiction! Thass all LIES!!"

I'm literally dumbstruck by the woman's interpretation. My brain is struggling to process this flawed logic statement. I mean, what she said is technically correct, I suppose, but *completely* misses the point of why fiction exists.

She continues to lecture her brood, but I'm fixated on that one phrase she said. Can't stop thinking about it. In some ways, I've never quite recovered from it. It was one of the earliest examples in my life of encountering people that do not, can not, and will not ever see and experience the world as I do. Also, there's some pretty effin' ignunt people out there.

Now, I've written quite enough. I'm off to read a pack o' lies. I think I'll take in some of Mr. Shakespeare's prevarications. 'Twelfth Night' seems apropos this evening.