It's Monday, not my favorite day of the week. I just don't like transition days; Tuesday is my favorite day of the week -- I always feel productive on Tuesdays. For some reason I didn't post this weekend, probably because I was hopping all over the blogosphere. Crazy-for-Books had a crazy-good idea in the book blogger hop, and it was really interesting seeing all the variations on book blogs out there. I keep finding really good blogs, and I am following so many now that I wonder how I will keep track of them all. At some point I need to find the right balance between reading other blogs and writing my own. But I love that there is a conversation going on, and I love the opportunity to take part in the conversation.
So I've been reading widely and deeply; widely because as a teacher I am always reading with and ahead of the students, and deeply because once I get reading on a topic, I want to go deeper. I recently finished reading T. C. Boyle's short story collection Wild Child, and that led me to The Forbidden Experiment: The Story of the Wild Boy of Aveyron by Roger Shattuck. I will probably write more about this book when I have finished it. The "Wild Boy of Aveyron" was discovered in early 1800 outside of a French village. He was probably about eleven or twelve years old, and had evidently been living alone in the forest for some time. He had a scar on his neck as if someone had tried to end his life. No one knows where he came from, whether he was abandoned in the forest or became lost. He knew no language, and did not have any socialization at all. From the descriptions given by his caretakers, he may have had autism, but that is sheer speculation. As Shattuck says: "Did the boy have emotions? Was he happy alone in the woods? How can we know? ....He made strange noises and laughed after a fashion. On his terms, whatever they were, he seemed to be satisfied with his lot."
One question raised by this story is, how did this boy manage to survive? And since he did survive, Shattuck asks, "Just what right, or duty, did anyone have to remove this boy from the life he made for himself?"
Now, here's where I may lose you, gentle reader. This question made me think about Huck Finn. That's another book I'm reading, along with my juniors. The juxtaposition of these two books made me think about Huck, and how he resists "sivilization." Now, I'm a teacher, so I'm all for children going to school, but when I read Huck's poetic descriptions of life on the Mississippi River, school just sounds dumb in comparison. Who wouldn't rather float down a river on a raft (with a pile of books, of course). And who are we (society, schools, teachers, etc.) to force Huck to wear clothes, go to school, stop smoking a pipe, and begin acting like a righteous little hypocrite?
When I am finished reading The Forbidden Experiment, I can continue to think about the very good questions posed by Shattuck by reading two other books on my shelf: The Wild Child by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson (the story of Kaspar Hauser, who was kept in a dungeon his entire life, and appeared in Nurmeburg, Germany, at the age of sixteen in 1833), and Savage Girls and Wild Boys: A History of Feral Children by Michael Newton.
Meanwhile, I read about half of Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart this weekend, while I was also dipping into The Complete Poems of John Keats. And Keats led me to more Keats: I picked up The Complete Letters of John Keats last week, and I'm looking forward to a full Keats immersion very soon.
My TBR list grows continually, and I take suggestions from other bloggers all the time. I'm intrigued by some of the reading challenges out there, including the Persephone challenge. One book that is on my list to read next is Caucasia by Danzy Senna. I'm thinking of reading this alongside The Wedding Dress by poet Fanny Howe, who also happens to be Danzy Senna's mother.
I am continually made aware of the connections between books: connections that exist between writers, connections made when one writer responds to another writer, connections of theme or character. The reader is part of this too: as we read, we are creating connections in our minds, then as we connect with other readers, more connections form. This richness of the world of literature means a book is so much more than just a book.