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Required Reading for Saturday

NYT Essay, "I Was a Teenage Illiterate:

At the age of 26, when I returned to New York after an inglorious stab at graduate work in medieval history on the frozen steppes of Chicago, I had a horrifying realization: I was illiterate. At least, I was as close to illiterate as a person with over 20 years of education could possibly be. In my stunted career as a scholar, I’d read promissory notes, papal bulls and guidelines for Inquisitorial interrogation. Dante, too. Boccaccio. . . . But after 1400? Nihil. I felt very, very stupid among my new sophisticated New York friends. I seemed very, very stupid, too. Actually, let’s face it, I was stupid, and it was deeply mortifying, as so many things were in those days. But I have since come to realize that my abject ignorance was really a gift: to be a literarily inclined illiterate at age 26 is one of the most glorious fates that can befall mortal girl.


Sidewaysedly, I am making my way (slowly) through Camus's The First Man in exchange of one of my friends reading Carey's Kushiel's Dart. It's an odd reading experience, mostly because the manuscript for the book was unfinished and so the text in the library's edition is peppered with notations of variants. So it's like a postmodern reading experience of a book that's not meant to be postmodern, for better or for worse. And it's okay reading, thus far, but it reminds me of why I generally don't care for capital-L Literature. My interior reading monologue is like, Oh, look, Arabic mysogny in Algeria. I hope the whole thing isn't like this. Oh great we have the hero now, and he has daddy issues. While visiting France. Okay. At least if this were Hemingway there'd be more alcohol and fucking by now. Oy.... etc.

Y'know last night I was teasing Scott about his next job when he's an actuary with a ludicrous salary, I'll go back to school and get my PhD. Although then I end up questioning why I want a PhD aside from the ego thing, cos do I really need to be "Dr Coker" when I'm already "Professor Coker" (although I pretty much never use that title or make anyone else use it either). But anyway, a PhD, looking at seven years of reading capital-L Literature and not much beyond that? Ergh. I don't know.


This ramble has been brought to you by the last packet of peppermint coccoa, because it's just chilly enough here at the window for drinking it to be a cozy Saturday experience.


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