Week 8: Last dining room bookshelf
That bookshelf on the right holds a bunch of Vonnegut, Steinbeck, Bradbury, Twain, and some other random fiction. Maybe I haven’t told you this before, but Mark Twain was kind of a big deal (to put it mildly) at my college. He did a bunch of writing in the Elmira, NY region, where his wife’s family was from, and his octagonal writing studio is housed on-campus. We spent a lot of time learning to appreciate all things Clemens during our years as undergrads, so I kind of have to choose at least one Twain work to feature from this shelf.
– I guess I have to go with the obvious–Huck Finn. As sick of Twain as I may have felt after a couple of semesters of having him shoved down my throat at every turn, there is just no denying that the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a brilliantly written classic. The humor is so deftly woven into some pretty darn serious subject matter, and Twain really gets to show off his power of allusion throughout the whole book. It’s great. If you haven’t read it, you should.
– My second choice this week is Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind. I love that frickin’ book, and I was absolutely in love with the movie as a child. I used to try to create my own southern belle style dresses by layering every skirt I owned on top of each other and then twirling in front of the television screen along with Scarlett and Melanie. The VHS copy of the movie we owned was taped from TV, so I also associate all these nostalgic feelings with various Campbell’s Soup and Toys’R’Us commercials that ran in between segments of the film. The copy of Gone With the Wind that sits on our bookshelf is old and yellowing, a keepsake taken from Mike’s grandmother’s expansive library when she passed away several years ago. If you haven’t read it, let me assure that there is absolutely nothing embarrassing about reading it and getting swoony and angry and devastated all at once. Do it.
Are any of you Mark Twain fans? Any Elmira alums out there who have been able to appreciate Mr. Clemens even after all those years of forced reading?