I get some of my reading suggestions from my sons’ English classes. I try to read, re-read (after many years) or at least scan the books my boys are reading (or read) in high school. It’s a way of being together with their thoughts and it gives us new shared experiences. Nate has read The Scarlet Letter, The Great Gatsby, Death of A Salesman this spring, and now Tim O’Brien’s, The Things They Carried.
I just finished reading The Scarlet Letter, with it’s formality on top of formality, morality and manners trying to hold in the new life taking root and sending wild energies all over around the new town of Boston. Hawthorne’s ambivalence about the new world is evident, to me anyway. Is the whole “new” England enterprise right? Should people live here in this wilderness? Are these new social relations in America fundamentally improper? What will hold everything together in this savage land? I know the book has been set as an opera, but I’ve never seen it. It reads like an opera to me, not too many characters, trumped-up drama and romance and staged formality, with timing right for an opera.
Nate enjoyed The Great Gatsby. The three of us saw the new movie version of it last week.
A few days ago, as we watched the Bruins playoff game together, Nate told me about a scene from The Things They Carried. The scene was moving to him. It made me happy to hear him tell me about it. When literature lives between people, life is enriched in a wonderful way. We are lifted out of ourselves by good writers. We are transported and might be amused or disturbed or delighted, together.