Books · Culture · Fiction

Is COVID-19 Driving You Nuts?

Me too.

I came across this in a blog I follow and it seemed to be good advice: It’s from The Importance of Living by Lin Yutang.

“Compare the difference between the life of a man who does no reading and that of a man who does. The man who has not the habit of reading is imprisoned in his immediate world, in respect to time and space. His life falls into a set routine; he is limited to contact and conversation with a few friends and acquaintances, and he sees only what happens in his immediate neighborhood. From this prison there is no escape. 

“But the moment he takes up a book, he immediately enters a different world, and if it is a good book, he is immediately put in touch with one of the best talkers of the world. This talker leads him on and carries him into a different country or a different age, or unburdens to him some of his personal regrets, or discusses with him some special line or aspect of life that the reader knows nothing about. An ancient author puts him in communion with a dead spirit of long ago, and as he reads along, he begins to imagine what that ancient author looked like and what type of person he was…. 

“Now to be able to live two hours out of twelve in a different world and take one’s thoughts off the claims of the immediate present is, of course, a privilege to be envied by people shut up in their bodily prison.”

And Closer to Home—from Reading and Rhyming by Herbert Knapp

The text of the poem:
No weed that grows, no chemical men cook
can alter my reality like a book.


Murder, Mayhem, and Public Education—Just Released!

Our publishing company, Girandole Books, has added a new title to its list.

Beating a Dead Stick takes place in an urban high school in the 1980s. It is is a novel about buffoonish educators and their hapless students told by Barbara Butler, an English teacher who has reached the end of her rope.

The students learn nothing and the faculty doesn’t care. A student is raped in the book room but won’t identify the rapist. Near the school, another student is murdered during a robbery at a convenience store. There are rumors of a call-girl ring involving the students, but the faculty remains comically oblivious.

When the teacher’s best friend, a transvestite math teacher, is badly beaten but too frightened to identify his attacker, Barbara turns to a former student, now a grown-up detective, to discover the truth.

Disclaimer: I need to make it clear that the events in Beating a Dead Stick did not happen in either of the high schools where I taught: the Pembroke Country Day School in Kansas City or Balboa High School in the Panama Canal Zone. Nor are the characters in the novel based on my former colleagues.   HK