‘ahems and ahahs’

Literature, & Etc.

The smart bibliophile.

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Should I be blogging? No. Should I not in fact be reading Silent Spring by Rachel Carson? Of course. Am I going to blog regardless of the fact that I have theory and environmental creative writing? You got it.

I don’t know about you, but I always feel much smarter when I’m reading some non-fiction. Let’s face it, as much as we all love our literature, fiction, and the occasional (genre) or “culture trash” text, nothing labels you as a cultured or mature as when you’re carrying around a nice non-fiction text. Biographies in particular help to establish you as a person of intellect.

One non-fiction text, a biography that I’ve found to be very fascinating is James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon – by Julie Phillips. For those unaware, James Tiptree Jr. is the pseudonym of Alice B. Sheldon, one of America’s great Golden Age Science Fiction short-story writer.

This biography gives a very nice picture of her complete life: from her early childhood days hunting in the African Savannah with her mother, to the very end when she finally revealed who she really was. Her writing is filled with her attempts to break down the gender barrier, being neither focused in a particularly male or female way.

I’ve only read a few chapters into the book, but I was thinking of the way in which this book provides me with some extra cultural capital. Society tends to look down upon certain types of fiction, but whenever a person is reading a biography or a history book or some other such non-fiction, there is this inherent attitude that seems to pervade: “Oh, you’re reading a biography of Andrew Carnegie, how FASCINATING!

It makes me wonder if some people really are interested in the non-fiction books that they’re carrying about, or if they simply wish to appear smarter than they are.

Dr. Allard, my Romantics professor from a few years ago remarked on something similar in one of his lectures.

We always carry two types of books when we travel on airplanes. A) The first book being the one we want to impress people with. We like to sit in our seat with our small cup of ice and tiny can of soda and have people notice us, pay attention to the fact that we’re reading about Nineteenth Century Medical Trauma. B) And then there is the book we have in our backpack that we pull out when we get to the hotel, or late at night at the end of a long day of travel. “Ahh…now I can sit down and read my John Grisham in peace. Ohh, this one is about a lawyer who works pro bono to save a deaf, blind, retarded German Shepherd from an evil corporation bent on world domination…I wonder how this will turn out!”

For what its worth, I realize that you’re thinking now….”But G? How do I know you’re not doing the same thing? Easy, I’m an English Literature major, everything I read is more important and better, along with my attitude and opinions on all things of this nature.”

Cheers friendos.

Written by thebeliever07

September 12, 2008 at 11:28 am

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