Posts Tagged ‘God Bless You Mr. Rosewater’

Vonnegut month: Welcome to Earth and ramblings about kids

February 6, 2011


via.

“Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you’ve got about a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies — Goddamn it, you’ve got to be kind.”

(God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater. p. 129.)

Everybody’s always preaching on about what the world is coming to and how everything’s changed and children aren’t being raised right anymore, and perhaps that’s so in more cases than it used to be, but, when I am with my kidlet and her friends or I’m in the classroom teaching and interacting with children, I don’t generally find these bell-ringing end-of-days declamations of “oh-kids-these-days!” too be true at all.

If “kids” seem as a group to behave in a way that runs counter to previous societal standards, that is not reflective of their motivations, but of their parents’ lack. If they act out in a way they did not do twenty years ago, it’s because they’re being allowed to be fed bullshit from the television and other media by people too lazy to lift a finger to defend their minds from rot.

Children are still people, and as long as we continue to try to teach them to be compassionate and to love, they will have the same things in common with the people of history (who were never any of them that great to begin with, don’t be fooled) that every other generation has done: love, sex, passion, greed, honor, and the whole scope of personal emotions. Kids cannot be cut off from the birthright that is human feelings by technology — only we, and our attitudes, can cut them off from that.

All-night bookfoolery once again, or, “Vonnegut, be-gone-agut.”

February 20, 2010

So because, as I mentioned, I’ve been sick, that means I have been sleeping a lot during the day and furthermore taking weird cold medicines, and consequently have had some strange, sleepless nights this week. Jonohs is moving away soon, a fact which I’m frankly pretty distressed about, but its up side is that it forced me to finish up under the gun all the books I’d borrowed from him over the months of our friendship. I’d managed to return some here and there but I still owed back two Vonnegut novels. After finishing up the book I was already in the middle of (First Among Sequels, by Jasper Fforde), I read God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater somewhere in the wee small hours of this morning, and, staring at the clock and feeling feverish but wired once I’d finished, I decided to crack in to Mother Night.

The crew is headed to Yosemite this weekend and I thought it’d be nice to already be mid-book when I settle my brains for tonight’s winter’s nap. I don’t dislike starting a new book under any circumstances, but I do prefer to begin a serious literary undertaking from the comfort of my own bed as I find familiar and unobtrusive conditions to be the most ideal for minimal distractions and maximal speed of absorption.

But, typically, I fell down in to the guts of it and forgot I had only meant to get a good bit in and then stop. Kurt Vonnegut has done that to me many a time — I’m really glad Jonohs got me on his novels but I do miss my phase of reading his short stories because time was so much better measurable — although once I did nearly forget to get off my bus when I was reading “Harrison Bergeron” for the first time.

Long story short (short story long?), I wound down Mother Night just before sunrise, closed it, dropped it on the floor (sorry for admitting to sort of abusing your book, Jonohs; the floor is carpeted), and lay on my back drumming on my own abdomen for around fifteen minutes weighing my options. I was feeling logey-headed-toward-tired, and I noticed when I blinked I was weirdly sandy in the eyes, but it was too near waking-up time to take anything to help me sleep.

I thought, why not start Zombie, by Joyce Carol Oates, which Panda had loaned me about six months ago after her pronouncements of its disgusting loathsomeness piqued my interest (I love a freakshow but I hate violence against kids —I once unceremoniously threw a book away* when it opened with the brutal and needless murder of a child— so we’ll see how far I get in it; I am not predicting too far). However, I remembered it was in the garage, and that seemed like a long way to walk, plus I’m not sure it’s a good thing to be mid-read in for tonight when I’ll be wanting something light and put-down-able with the friendohs, so instead I snuck over to my kidlet’s side of the room and swiped her Super Friends comic.

Bad decision. She woke up to find me reading it and became indignant at what she saw as trespass on her side of the room. She sat on her bed with her hands on her hips (we sleep in twin beds separated by a night stand like a couple in a 50s sitcom or as if we are Jan and Marcia Brady — three guesses which of is which in that metahpor) and began chastising me for not asking before I borrowed her comic book. Something about how self-righteous her posture was coupled with the fact that she was clearly parroting some now-forgotten lecture which I must have given her in the past about “being respectful of others’ property” made me spontaneously throw a balled-up kleenex at her face, so we had a little pillowfight and then shuffled off to the kitchen to scare up breakfast.

I know, right? Stellar parent, amazing intellectual, and super-put-together adult, thoughtful and never-perverse journalist — people often ask me, how do I do it? To them I say, “I drink?”

*I do not remember the title but the book was by Iris Johansen, who I roundly encourage you to boycott. Not only because her fucking piece of shit novel opened with the murder of a child (sorry for the king-size cusses but she really pissed me off), but also because she was on thin ice with me already due to her overuse of synonyms for said — such a hack hallmark — especially “grimaced,” in my prior experiences with her “work.” People grimaced at each other left and right in the few books I read by her. “He grimaced.” “She grimaced.” UGH. First of all, using anything other than “cried,” “asked,” “replied,” or, on very isolated occasions and with great restraint, “sighed,” as a signifier for said is cheap amateur hour bullshit. It breaks up the narrative flow and smacks of junior high purple prose. Second, people do not go around grimacing their words. So it was not only redundant and unimaginative, but also basically not even picturable. And topping that previous bad impression by graphically killing a kid in her this-is-your-last-chance-with-me-bitch novel? Fuck her. I threw it away and I’d do it again; I’m sorry if that horrifies you, but I didn’t want anyone else to read it either. Some shit is trash.