Thursday, July 10, 2008


Hard as it is to believe. I was once a pure and innocent child without a drinking problem.

And in those formative years, what would become a love/hate relationship with reading and writing (note: pretty much everything in my life is love/hate) was formed when my grandparents (not the crazy ones; the other ones) got me a subscription to Reader's Digest Condensed Books for Children Best Loved Books for Young Readers.

(Uh... yeah, I was hoping for better than that link, but I guess those books disappeared before the InterWebs were invented. My old. Also, UPDATE: I misremembered the name of the series -- again, my old -- but in taking another trip through the Internet this morning found this essay by Terry Teachout that summarizes a lot of my thoughts and nostalgia.)


Those compilations are long gone -- did I throw them out? did they get lost in my parents' divorce? -- but, lately, I've been thinking about those books. The Call of the Wild... Treasure Island... Tom Sawyer... and dozens of other books -- er, condensed books -- I read thirty or f--f--f--- thirty years ago, and not since. Great, great memories. I wanted to get lost that way again.

And given the mind-numbing number of contemporary gay books I've been reading lately, I needed a change. It seemed to me that going back to the roots would be a nice change of pace.

So, a few weeks ago, I bought a volume of short stories. It was published 15 years ago and is all but out of print, except for the copy I grabbed from the remainder bin at B&N. Almost 1,000 pages... dozens of authors... Washington Irving through Saul Bellow. This will be my 'reading on the side' book for the summer.

The other night I cracked it open and read for a while. Washington Irving made me laugh out loud. Who knew?