Tuesday, July 5, 2011

a reader again

today my older son sat in the sun on the deck and read half a book, from the middle to the end, sat there for several hours straight, to finish it.

he pronounced it excellent. and i was thrilled.

there was a time when this wouldn't be news. this is the kid, after all, who used to set his alarm clock in second grade to get up at 5:30 am - because he insisted he needed two hours to read before getting ready for school. every day.

this is the kid who, in the third grade, brought 'the hunt for red october' home from the school library. he had requested it through the inter-library loan - from the high school.

in fact, the only struggle we had was trying to make sure that what he was reading was appropriate, because his reading level was so much above his age.

oddly enough, he didn't read early, or even right away. my theory at the time - and i still think there's some truth to it - was that the books he had to read to learn to read were so mind-numbingly boring to him as a 5 and 6 year old, that he really wasn't interested in reading to himself, until he could read what he wanted to read.

like, the hunt for red october. or red storm rising - whichever it was. i never could keep all the tom clancy novels straight.

something happened in the past few years, though, something all about being a teenager and electronics and a computer and facebook and video games, and he just wasn't such a voracious reader any more.

what book was it that captivated him today?

slaughterhouse-five, by kurt vonnegut.

what did i do?

ran right out and bought him breakfast of champions.

maybe, once again, he just needed the right material, something clever, fresh, unique, critical, beautiful. something satirical, not about the status quo.

i still remember reading kurt vonnegut for the first time. i'd never read anything like THAT before. he was so honest, so true. he wrote about life as it really is - which all teenagers instinctively know - messy and frequently unhappy and without real resolutions, closures, or even sense. without good guys and bad guys. complicated - but beautiful. a vision that definitely helped me survive. i hope he gets something even half as powerful and inspiring out of these books.

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