Posted by GIRL'S GONE CHILD | Tuesday, October 17, 2006
I'm a book snob.
Bookstores depress me, all of the faux-fur-jacketed crap on the shelves, discounted 20%. Bestsellers. I do not buy or even browse a book that has pink on its cover (anywhere) or a martini glass or a high-heel or a handbag or a leopard print coat, or a clothes hanger or a city-skyline or a cat with a sequined collar or a crown or jewelry or a convertible BMW with a headscarf blowing in the wind and the Hollywood sign/Eiffel tower/Empire State Building/leaning tower of Pisa in the background. You can judge a book by it's cover, these days. You really can.
Yes! Finally a book about women in towels daydreaming of cosmopolitans and high-heeled shoes and single beach-chairs on secluded beaches and red roses behind suited-men's backs!
That being said I'm a total and utter hypocrite having made my publishing debut (and name) in the most disrespected-by-the-publishing-world-book-series. Period. If you ever want to get the stink-eye from Lawrence Ferlinghetti, tell him that you are a contributing author of Chicken Soup For The Teenage Soul and a bunch of other Chicken Soup(y) Books. Tell him you are reading from Teen Soul on Tough Stuff your very profound and award-winning story, "I Kiss Like a Horse" on the Etc stage at 3:00 and watch him convulse with disrepect. And then ask him to sign A Coney Island of the Mind, which he will do before muttering, "I hope you're aspiring for more..." then handing book back with a forced smile.
And I am. I promise. I'm working, Larry. I'm working, and sometimes even I'm embarrassed to be seen with myself.
Being a voracious reader and a bit of a connoisseur of words and language, I started early with Archer, reading my belly some of my favorite works of poetry, trying to introduce him to the rhythm of words and melody of prose.
When he was born, we already had a great collection of children's books. Board book and non and a several bath books as well. I read to him before bedtime as a newborn, as an infant, and a toddler. He could care less.
I felt like a total failure, especially when browsing bookstores to see children Archer's age reading with their parents, sitting quietly in their warm laps, tracing their little fingers over the pictures, listening. When I tried to do the same, Archer sweetly tossed whatever it was I was trying to read, clear across the room or hit me in the face with a Caldecott-worthy spine.
My heart was broken. I stopped buying him books. I stopped trying to force-read 'Where the Wild Things Are' and I resigned myself to the fact that the only way Archer would devour a book was by, actually devouring it -- cardboard pages soggy in his mouth.
There have been so many wonderful little books I have wanted to buy him, read to him, cuddle to. For just as adult literature is becoming more of a mass-produced joke, it seems children's books are getting better, more inspired, better written, with more depth on a single, wordless page than any Sophia Kinsella disaster or Sex and the City knock-off. (Except for that Walter the Farting Dog book which is one of the more confusing success stories. Perhaps it would be a better read if something exciting happened like Farting-Dog went to prison?)
Last week in the shower, a miracle occurred-- Archer reached for one of many bath books, crawled over to me, sat in my lap and let me read him the story. And I did. Buck naked, and teary-eyed, I read Archer the "ABC's" book aloud and he *sniff* listened. By God, HE LISTENED!!! Soon after 'ABC'S' we read '123's' and then 'Colors' and then 'Colores' (en espanol) until we had read the entire contents of our bath-library and we were both prunes.
The next day Archer did it again, grabbing this time, "One Fish Two Fish... " And the next day he did the same and the next day and the next..!
Unfortunately storytime is something that has yet to happen on dry-land. I have even tried wiping dry his beloved bath books to read to him on the couch, but No. Only in the shower we can read! Only without my glasses! Only while water is pounding me in the face and getting in my nose!
Perhaps this is just a phase, kind of like the secret-walking and the bitch slapping and the obsession with string-cheese.
Before I had nightmares of Archer crawling to his High School Prom, but now I dream of special-ordering Catcher in the Rye in bath book, so Archer will actually read the thing and be able to pass 9th grade. Hopefully by then he will have graduated to board book at the very least.
Otherwise you can call me Ishmael, because I'll be spending the rest of my days at sea in the bathroom, with Arch, and the alphabet classic, ABC, with shampoo in my eyes, one-shaved leg and a pruned-ass.