How do you read?
What I mean is – and I mean this indirectly – what do you intend to get out of what you read?
That’s a pretty general question, Bob.
All right, I’m still not being clear enough. Do you read to get the gist of the story? Do you read to understand the characters and their conflicts? Do you read contextually, i.e., do you read to understand the story and characters in light of their historical and social settings?
Yeah, all that.
Okay, that makes you an exceptional reader. So let me ask you this: How quickly do you read?
You mean do I buy a book, run home and start reading?
You know I don’t mean that. How long do you dwell on each page?
I don’t know…Jeez, Bob, you going to put a stopwatch on me, or what?
No. What I’m getting at is: Do you enjoy the act of reading? Do you savor the writer’s word choices? Do you ponder his/her choice of metaphors? Can you slip into the writer’s written voice like a new bathrobe? Do you look for and celebrate the irony there? The subtlest humor and satiric bits and pieces?
Yeah, sometimes. Sometimes the book bores the shit out of me, and so I scan it. Can’t wait to get through with it, you know?
I do indeed. I try to allude to all these things when I write a review; I try to lead the ones who read my reviews into reading the book, and I try to tell them what they can expect from reading it.
I get where you’re coming from, Bob. You’re going to try something new in your reviews, aren’t you? And you depend on your formula to get you through the weeds.
(Notice how, suddenly, the questioner becomes the questioned?)
I get that, Bob. You’re as regular as an alarm clock when it comes to putting that formula into practice. So what’s up?
Kid lit, my friend. Kid lit.
Books for tykes, you mean.
So why is that a challenge?
Vocabulary, for one thing. An eight-year old’s vocabulary is roughly half an adult’s. And then there’s the degree of complexity a child’s mind can handle.
So, Bob, you think a kid’s mind isn’t as well developed as an adult’s?
Well, it’s been proven. That’s why they go to school. To improve their ability to think and communicate what they think.
It’s not to learn a trade? To get a good paying job?
Now you’re getting into politics, and we both know where that ends up. Certain people scratch around in the dust long enough and greedily enough, and they end up with money. Piles of it. They become addicted to money. Can’t get enough of it. So they tweak society into training mindless automatons to do their bidding. Give them just enough mental training to have them function as human machines.
Like that old song? “A mind that’s weak and a back that’s strong?”
Exactly. You become dangerous if your mind becomes over-educated.
Is that what you want, Bob, over-educated people who cause trouble?
In a way. But what I’d say is I want people who can think for themselves – and for society as a whole. To move us all forward.
Really, Bob? Really? And how do you propose to do that?
Get them reading. Challenge their minds that way.
And how do you get your so-called automatons to read?
Kid lit, my friend. Kid lit. Get the kids reading, and they’ll never stop.
End of scene. See you next week.