Day 86

Distant Socialising

For a few minutes this morning, I have been trying to work out the most appropriate age for someone to read the novel The Unbearable Lightness of Being at. (Those of you who can’t read, look away now; today will be mostly about literature.) [If they can’t read, they can’t read the warning to look away now – Ed.] (They know what I mean.) There is no point going near that book when you are in your twenties, and stay well away from the film at all times – apart from the nude hat scene. I am even inclined to think that thirty-year-olds will not bring enough life experience with them to the act of reading to derive full benefit from Kundera’s book. Save it up until you are forty then, and then make sure you read it more than once as a lot of it will go over your head the first time.

A writer, of course, has no control over the age of his readers, but publishers do, in a way, with they way they categorise books. What is now called Young Adult fiction used to be Children’s Books when I was a young adult, and, to all in temporary, outdoors accommodation and to a category of sea-faring mammals, still are now that I am an old adult. If you are from Norn Iron and did not read the Kevin and Sadie books by Joan Lingard as a child, go and read them now, no matter how young or old an adult you are. It won’t take you long; they are short books. In fact, I still have two of them to read myself as it was only when at university that Denise informed me that there were five books in the series. So I’ll meet you back here after the break.

Finished? Now, wasn’t that enjoyable? Female Teenager, when she read the books, got a great kick out of Kevin’s Da complaining about his sister always being stuck indoors with her nose in a book instead of being out in the street playing with the other children. Presumably partly because he was the opposite of her own Da with his ‘Read, read, read’ mantra. Her Da is still the same, and if he could infect Teenage Boy 1 & 2 with the same disease, he would die a happier man. [Just how happy do you expect to be when you die? -Ed.] The mantra has been amended somewhat though: it now runs, ‘Read, read and read again.’ Because the real test of the worth of a book is how it stands up to re-reading, in that, if a book is worth reading, it is worth reading twice, at least. Otherwise, why the need for bookcases? Logically speaking, apart from those dicks who buy books by the yard for interior decorating, if books were designed for a single reading, we would just throw them in the recycling bin when we finish the last page, having absorbed all their lessons and derived all the pleasure available in them. And there are, indeed, some books that deserve that fate. Dan Brown’s oeuvre springs to mind.

{It’s not very funny today, is it?} (Who are you? And where did you get those fancy brackets from?) {I’m Anonymous, and I wrote a post for you when you were diabled. Use SHIFT and the square bracket sign to get these fancy, twirly ones. Now, where’s the jokes?} (What do you call a deer with no eyes?) {I don’t know.} (No idea.) {Oh, very good, no-eyed deer, I get it.} (What do you call a deer with no eyes and no legs?) {Give up.} (Still no idea.) {Oh, ho-ho! That’s good.} (There is a third installment but it is not suitable for young adults so I’ll tell you it on email. Is that enough jokes now?) {There was this fairy called Nuff.} (Fairy Nuff?)

So it is nearly time for me to dive into The Unbearable Lightness of Being again, because I enjoy the book so much, but also because being in my fifties might even mean there are more lessons and more pleasure available within its covers for me now. Other books on my re-read list include the two Alice books, which never fail to delight me. The idea that these are children’s books is laughable in itself, but not the biggest laugh available from the works. I also have un-read, Irish-language versions of those two books, but I am saving them up for some time in the increasingly uncertain future. By the looks of things, there might not be any books in the future, as this is the usual order of things: pull down statues, burn books, kill people. By the way, in fiction, you would not get away with the same group of people who so condemned ISIS for pulling down works of art being the very group out on the streets of western democracies now pulling down and destroying works of art, but I may have said that before.

Back to publishers and how they categorise books for marketing and selling purposes. Literary Fiction is the category serious writers aim for, because Adult Fiction means a whole other thing. {What?} (You again? Well, as you like your jokes, Adult Fiction is mostly for one-handed reading.) But surely the publishers can do better than this and start categorising books for adult into age-specific categories? For example, 21-32 year-olds, 37-45 year-olds, that sort of thing. Or have wee warning notices on the front like some CDs have: “This work contains adult ideas that could offend you when you are too young to understand them.”

God love young people and their earnestness and idealism. The only redeeming aspect of it is that they will grow out of it. Now leave JK Rowling alone.

And wash your minds with a book.


2 thoughts on “Day 86

  1. Anne On – did it not occur to you that, among the many available, I choose the Vogue link for humour purposes? Like Vogue is advising its readers how they should ‘wear’ this controversy?


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