My friend teaches English at a local community college. A few weeks ago, we went on a camping trip and shared a long car ride. On the way, the conversation made its way to the books he requires his students to read. His classes cover a wide range of fiction, everything from children’s literature to the classics to contemporary literature, and when he mentioned some of the modern works he teaches, I asked if he discusses the Twilight series. “My students are usually offended when I tell them that it’s not a well written book,” he said. “I try to make the point that just because they love a book, that doesn’t make it great literature and that it’s okay to like it anyway.” This brought to mind a story Stephen King shared in his book, On Writing. The library was where he found most of the books he read as a child, and upon returning home from each visit, he would present his choices to his mother, who would proclaim most of them “trash”, but some would be judged more worthwhile, and these she would refer to as “good trash.” My friend also described his attempts to show his students that just because they don’t like a certain work, that doesn’t mean it’s “stupid”. Just because Hamlet, for example, is not on your top ten list of great works of fiction, it is still worthwhile to be aware of what makes it an enduring piece of literature, to appreciate why it’s still performed, written about, and discussed even though Shakespeare’s been moldering under Holy Trinity Church for centuries. What does any of this have to do with Violet? I’ll tell you tomorrow.
266 days old