Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Books: The Middle Years.

So here we are in the middle years, which I consider about Jr. High until I graduated from High School.

Let me just say these things: Stephen King, sex, drugs and J.D. Salinger.

That pretty much sums up what I was reading during these years. My Stephen King fixation began with, you guessed it, my mom. I had a real thing for horror and scary stories. I still love a good horror story or movie, but I'd much rather read or watch true tales of such things than the made up stuff. I think I OD'd on horror during this time and now I'm just numb and can't go back.

I read just about every Stephen King book I could get my hands on, followed up by watching Stephen King movies (or the TV mini-series), just so I could be totally freaked out and think I was being haunted most of the time. (I never was.) The scarier the better.

As you can imagine, and as with most typical teenagers, I was curious about sex, and with sex followed drugs. So I read just about every teenage book that talked about these things in one fashion or another. Of course there was Judy Blume's Forever, which I think I read 50 bazillion times. I read Go Ask Alice just as many times. It Happened to Nancy was another read. I would go to the library or bookstore and seek out any book that mentioned these things in any capacity.

One day I asked my mom to give me something to read. What did she hand over to me? J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye. I devoured that book and have read it many times since. The more I think about it, the more I want to find my copy and read it again. He was to me at that age what Robert Cormier was to me at a younger age. He created a character with a different voice and personality that I wasn't used to but was keenly fond of. Salinger, along with Cormier, showed how life isn't always pretty.

In 10th grade (or 11th grade, jeez, I can't remember), my English teacher was really fixated on forcing us to memorize passages from poems and being theatrical. I'm starting to think English and theatrics go hand in hand, but if I was teaching an English class, I'm not sure I would go that route. Anyway. We had to group up and plan a skit based on a different characters from books. I'm pretty sure she allowed us to pick whomever we wanted to play, even though she was a tad on the controlling side (she ended up being the 11th grade English teacher to most of us and assigned us Walden to read during the summer, which I did not, and my poor mom had to go to school and defend my kooky honor) and slightly mean and very old, so it's surprising, now that I think about it, that she let us have at it with this project of hers.

You can guess which character I picked. I was Holden Caulfield, and if I do say so myself, I was a darn fabulous Holden at that. I wore one of my dad's button down shirts, tie and a jacket. I had attitude. I was Holden. I don't know who the other people were; I just remember that another classmate was interviewing us, and for some reason I'm remembering Captain Ahab was around.
So Salinger's Catcher in the Rye has always stuck with me as being one of those books that make one realize what writing fiction can really be like. Later on in college I had another one of these moments.

During this time I also read many classics, forgot about many classics, and didn't read too much on my own. I think it was just a stale period for me because I didn't know how to find other great authors to read outside of what was assigned in class, and most of those weren't of too much interest to me. Again, I didn't get to another set of authors who knocked me on my butt and inspired me to write and write and keep writing until college.

And I would call this The Later Years.

1 comment:

Kmommy said...

Me too with the Stephen King! and Forever and Go Ask Alice! We are almost reading twins ;) although to this day I have yet to read Catcher in the Rye. I'm almost afraid to now ;)