I learned to read before I went to kindergarten. (Trust me, this will piss off a teacher no end) My oldest sister – aka Satan – was in college, learning to be a teacher, and she practiced on me. Actually, all the kids did, I was the youngest so when we played “school,” I was the one who learned something while they were just being bossy. 🙂
When I got to first grade and was totally bored with See Jack Run (yes, I’m old, as my friend Kristy says “shutty.” ), the teacher was equally bored with me and didn’t exactly encourage my prowess. It didn’t matter. My parents were both readers, and all of us in my family share a love of books to this day.
I read everything that looked like a good story, and some that were not so great. It didn’t matter, really, it was a book, and it was a ticket to an adventure, and another world, and I can’t tell you how many times I was told to go to bed and I begged for “just one more chapter!”
I think I was in high school before I paid attention to the name on the front of the book, the name of the person who actually wrote these stories that took me to far off lands and wonderful adventures. I had never paid attention to anything but the story itself. I think it was J.R.R. Tolkien who changed that for me, I tore through The Hobbit and the trilogy and what the heck? People actually write series? I can read more than one book about a character? Holy cow, who knew?
I never cared about the author, except if he or she had a new book coming out, or if the last one was as good as the others, or dear Jebus, does the library carry them? I didn’t care about the author’s skin color, or race, or nationality, or religion. I didn’t care about the characters skin color, or race, or nationality, or religion unless it was pertinent to the story.
I still don’t care. I just want to read a book, If the book is about something abhorrent to me, if the main character were a horrible racist and described as a hero, I wouldn’t read further. I’m an adult, I can figure out that I wouldn’t enjoy that story. I don’t have to agree with someone to enjoy their work. I might not like the guy who plows the roads but I’m damned happy if he does a good job! (It snowed here this morning. In April. Don’t get me started on global warming.)
And in today’s world, children – and yes, they seem to be children to me – are cancelling authors who may have written wonderful, amazing stories, that would be a life line to a child in need of one, They’re cancelling authors for any number of reasons. I saw a sad post from an aspiring writer the other day – she said she loved to write stories but as a white person, she felt terrified that she would get some detail wrong if she wrote about a character of another color, as a heterosexual female, she felt she had no right to write about a character who was of another gender or who was perhaps bisexual or gay, and that no matter how much research she did, she would never feel that she wasn’t making a mistake, some tiny mistake, that would destroy any work she might have done. She said that she was thinking of giving up her dream because there was no longer any joy.
I just read We The Living, by Ayn Rand. (Speaking of authors, this one I never read till college and then was forced into Atlas Shrugged at a time when it made no impression on me at all. Or did it? I returned to her work at the suggestion of Peachy (aka, my enabler) and it’s certainly making an impression on me now) Some of the characters in this book experience this same despair – for those of you who haven’t read it, it’s set in the early days of the Russian revolution and the Communist takeover. It saddened and frightened me to see this same despair playing out in a young person today. In America – where I grew up believing you could be anything you wanted to be if you just tried hard enough.
What’s the point of trying if you’re going to be cancelled for a “micro-aggression?”