Friends and Readers (was Tam Lin/Elitism)

Margaret E Parks meparks at mtholyoke.edu
Tue Sep 12 19:38:13 EDT 2000


Hmm.  I would agree that being a reader makes a difference in a
person.  (I'm sorry I can't quote but my college's email is ARCHAIC and
impossible to use.)  I'm thinking here of something that was said in my
children's lit class the other day--the teacher declared that reading
encourages a sort of empathy in children--it gets them to think of other
people as people, with feelings and ideas.  An example here is my younger
brother.  He's fourteen, and the only person in my family who doesn't read
a lot.  He much prefers one of his six thousand different video game
systems or any movie starring a SNL alum.  (I can quote most of "Billy
Madison," which is a very stupid if funny movie involving a
twentysomething man who goes through school again, starting in
kindergarten.  Just in case those of you who aren't from the US live in
countries where Adam Sandler isn't worshipped by the fourteen year old
crowd.)  Anyway--although I love him very much, I don't find in my baby
brother the sensitivity to others that I would like to see.  My older
brother and I were both very considerate and basically kind.  It's not
that Robbie is mean, but he does do the kind of things, like tease
shy, bookish girls, that made me hate fourteen year old boys when I was
fourteen myself.  I don't know why he doesn't read, but I can't help
feeling that if he maybe did he wouldn't be so insensitive (of course,
maybe he also wouldn't be horribly popular and a mega-jock, which I think
I might have always wanted to be in middle school).  But I certainly don't
think that people who don't read religiously are. . . lesss worthy.  My
best friend has been my best friend for half my life, and I've never been
able to get her to read anything other than the latest magazine or
self-help book (though she does like Witch Week--ha ha!  I'm on
topic! :-P!)
	About Tam Lin--I didn't like that book (although it did make me
eager to go to college, in the hopes that people there would actually
enjoy reading and learning. . . well).  A lot of the reason is that it
made me feel stupid for not knowing a lot of the works referenced, and not
being able to recall huge passages of the ones I did know.  I've got a
HORRIBLE memory for quotes, and I hate being made to feel stupid just
becaus I can't quite remember exactly what was said first on the
forty-seventh page of a random Thomas Pynchon novel.  Janet was so
smug.  I can just see her and (I can't remember his name--wasn't it
Tom?) growing old and smug together in some academic setting with all
these kids they'd name good old names while looking down their noses at
trendy namers, and feed them lots of granola while laughing behind their
hands at the moms who still buy wonderbread.  It's not the old names or
the granola I object to--it's the sniggering.  What I did like was
Elizabeth Marie Pope's The Perilous Gard.  It borrows a lot from the
legend of Tam Lin, and was one of my favorite historical books for
years.

lizzie

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