Friday, April 8, 2011


My grade 13 English teacher, Mr. McGarrity, was an impressive man. He was stern and insistent that we learn to love literature. I remember that he would always have us read aloud so that he could critique our diction. He had quite a task before him, because there were a number of students that were billeted hockey players. (The Peterborough Petes were a Junior A hockey team that sent their boys to my high school.) He had his work cut out for him with this lot. They were there to play hockey - and they didn't really care about the underlying social tension in Tess of the D'urbervilles. He couldn't even get them excited about Lady Chatterley's Lover.  They sat up a little when it came time for Shakespeare, however. He had us act out the plays in front of the blackboard. He didn't give a hoot if we didn't have a dramatic bone in our body. We would read, and we would read well - and it usually resulted in some funny moments.

He was disdainful of 'pulp fiction' - no, not the Quentin Tarantino film (p.s. - my 80 year old mother's favorite movie), but the kind of fiction you buy at the drugstore.

He influenced me more than he knew. I love to read and only have so much time to indulge myself with fiction. So, I try to confine myself to "Literature". If there is a book that everyone is reading, I refuse to read it. If its designed for the masses, I don't want to know about it. I'm a real McGarrity snob. I know it's a character flaw - but it's one I have not been able to really fix.

When I met Bill, he too was a snob about reading. But, his snobbery was little different. He confined himself to mostly non-fiction. He had spent his childhood reading science fiction and said that he was only interested in truth from now on. Life is short etc. etc.

It wasn't until a couple of years ago that I enticed him into my fiction world. And now he's hooked. He in turn, just hooked me on dime store fiction: The girl with the dragon tattoo by Steig Larsson. I could not put the sucker down. He listened to it on tape on his road trips to Albany. He told me to try it. I put my nose in the air and tuned him out. But, he LOVED it and highly recommended that I read it.  So I did. And now I'm off to the bookstore to buy the next in the series.

I will , however, hide it behind the cover of a 'real book'. I do have principles after all.

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