Sunday, June 10, 2012

Waiting For Something...

I actually have friends who enjoy literature. Not just the Hunger Games series (and that third book was a steaming pile if you ask me), but real lit-rah-ture. In fact, my vet school classmate Jill (aka, Jillypants, for reasons unknown to me) has a blog in which she and a high school friend are re-reading all of the stuff they read in high school English.

Then there's the rest of us. Here's a sample:

It started out innocently enough -- I was having a conversation with Eric (and I think it might have even been work-related) and I said it was like waiting for Godot, it never happened.

Then I had to admit that I'd never read "Waiting For Godot" and that all I really knew about it was that (** Spoiler Alert **) Godot never does show up.

Then Eric said "Waiting For Godot" was something that nobody actually read, but people just bought to display on their bookshelves to seem educated. We looked it up on wikipedia and it turns out it is a) a play, and b) written by Samuel Beckett. Then we read the one line summary and both of us admitted we would never go to see something like that.

Then I accused him of owning a copy of "Waiting For Godot", which he promptly denied and followed up with a denial of owning any literature with the exception of A Tale of Two Cities which he claims is a great book and the only one in four years of high school English worth reading.

I promptly started trash-talking Charles Dickens. I've read The Pickwick Papers (bloated and clearly written by someone being paid by the word) and you just can't get away from A Christmas Carol (which, like all things related to Christmas, is cloyingly sweet and should never again see the light of day). I did finally admit to not hating A Tale of Two Cities when I was in high school, because, compared to everything else we read, it was interesting.

So then we started trying to remember what else we did read. And it turns out that there was not a lot of knowledge transfer going on during our teenage years, because we came up with one book in common. In fact, I was able to name more books that the non-honors classes read (and I didn't) than I was able to come up with for the classes I was in.

Anyhow, we both remembered reading The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. Or, more accurately, I remember reading the book, and Eric remembers watching the movie in class after they'd read the book.

Here is what I remember: The main character is a deaf guy and the book was really depressing, and I sort of have the feeling that he might have committed suicide in the end, although I won't swear to that.

Here is what Eric remembers: There was a sex scene in the movie.

So there you have it. Honors English clearly enriched our lives and made us better people.


Keith said...

Not only did I read "Waiting for Godot" in AP English, but I loved it both in the written form and as performed on stage. In fact, I wrote an in-class 2-day essay on that play for which my AP English professor (not one known for grade inflation in the very least) gave me a 100%--the only time I got that score from him.

That being said, I absolutely hated A Tale of Two Cities.

jeff said...

Is this where I chime in about doc savage and the hardy boys?

(Note, for you people that read becket and dickens, that sounds like a great doc savage book, but sadly it's actually two different series of fiction.)

I will have to admit I liked hemingway because he didn't use big words. I also seem to remember something about jack london writing a piece about a guy freezing to death -- but then, I went to public school so I can't really compare english classes. The story goes that while you were taking latin, my honours english class had a spelling test for the final. (We did read some book with a bunch of characters with multiple names but that only narrows it down to the greeks and russians.)

Hmm. Now that I think about it we seem to have only read manly men authors. So much for the enlightened CA educational system.

And of course, I didn't read vonnegut or irving until later. Do they count?

Theresa B (of Nebulopathy) said...

I think maybe I just wasn't cut out to read a bunch of depressing fiction by a bunch of dead white Europeans.

I did also read the first half of "Crime and Punishment" and then couldn't force myself to finish it.

So, to recap, no depressing fiction by a bunch of dead guys for me.

JJ said...

We did less reading in my honors/AP track English classes than the regular track English classes. I have no desire to read the stuff that they read. For surviving AP English, we got to take Humanities senior year in which we watched a bunch of movies (Aliens as a modern interpretation of the classic war movie, A Clockwork Orange, Rebel Without a Cause, others). We read a couple of books and plays, too, and studied the Sgt. Pepper album as the original concept album. It was a lot of fun and bullshit. PA tax dollars at work.

Theresa B (of Nebulopathy) said...

JJ, I think the take-home point is that as long as they taught you to write in a way that made you look at least somewhat educated, it didn't matter what they taught in English. However, it does sound as if your class was a bit... unorthodox.

Can you imagine the outcry if they tried to show A Clockwork Orange in a public school around here today? Or maybe not. I think the people with kids in AP classes are not the ones that don't want their kids exposed to anything. Hm. That would be an interesting thing to look at...