During my sojourn at my parents’ house, I realized that over the years, I have collected a lot of books. There are books from when I was little – from which I could not bear to part – teenage angst-ridden narratives, books like Anne of Green Gables (a right of passage for myself and other “kindred spirits”) and plenty of books from college.
Books that I’ve forgotten about since college. Like this gem:
I know for a fact that I did plenty of reading from this book while working towards my American Studies degree. If nothing else, my margin notes, furtive scribbles at some chapters’ conclusions, and mystifying lines under great passages of text point to the fact that yes, I did study. Not only did I study, but I’m sure that the marked passages were used in some of the many papers that now fill a desk drawer at my parents’ house.
However, it’s easy to tell exactly what I was asked to read and what I was not, particularly when it comes to early American Literature. The assigned readings are ripe with ink, and those I did not touch are suspiciously blank.
For instance, exhibit A. I believe this was Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. If this is not the correct text, then it’s something similar and full of hellfire, brimstone and hopelessness. Unless we all repent, that is.
I remember reading this. I remember being exceedingly bored by it, but reading it nonetheless because I was the kind of student that liked to know what the professor was talking about. Not only did I hope to share this knowledge, but I always had an innate fear that the day or the week I didn’t do the reading, I would be called upon to discuss it. In short, I put the fear of God into myself and achieved my degree.
However, looking back at Volume I of American Literature, I realized there were a lot of potentially interesting passages that I *didn’t* read. So, when fed up with sitting online and not in the mood for television, I felt like I wanted to read this book. Again. Or, in most cases, for the first time.
It was just as dull as back in college.
Fair enough, I came across some published letters between John and Abigail Adams, which were particularly interesting given that I watched most of the Paul Giamatti-helmed series. (and cried crazily and uncontrollably at its conclusion, but that’s another story) Initially, I thought, “oh wow, cool, now I can read what I saw firsthand!” Key word here, folks, is “initially.”
Some of the lines about how much they missed one another were quite romantic. And I appreciated how Abigail discussed how strongly she prayed for John’s safety, and that he return to her. It was rather heartwarming, to say the least. But the prose itself? The way they wrote at that time is something that irks me today. I want to go back and edit these “historical” diary entries, speeches, letters and narratives because they are so clumsy to read. Potentially, I think that some of this writing is better than what passes for published fiction and non-fiction today, but in other instances…well, let’s just say it’s one way to help alleviate insomnia.
So, my advancing age and palpable maturity can not be measured by my attention span, so it seems. I still have zero patience with early American literature (even though I may have a greater appreciation for the written word, and more time in which to enjoy it) and, sadly for my good, old Norton, this volume will have to sit on the shelf. And be ignored. Once again.
But Abigail…now that’s a pretty neat name, no?