Sunday, June 28, 2009


I loved reading in high school. Some of my favorite books then are still in my top ten: Gone With The Wind, 1984, Watership Down. I have forgotten most of the books that were assigned reading (1984 is the exception). Does that mean those books weren't as good? Or did I dislike dissecting them so much that I blanked them out of my mind?

I've been thinking about high school reading for ARG. Looking at lists and considering what he should read. Another question is whether I will make him write about what he reads. I thought I would, at first. But I just read an article in the NYTimes about how kids end up hating the classics because they are forced to write inane essays about themes, metaphors, writing styles...etc. So the jury is out on the writing for me.

But I am positive I want to encourage (if not insist) that he read a certain set of books. I also know that if I want him to get anything from them, I'll need to discuss them with him (unless a brilliant high school book club falls in our laps magically).

So, I've started checking books out from the library. I'll never make it through them all before they are due (I always check out too many!), but I have started. I picked an easy one to start: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Who can forget Jack Nickelson in the movie? I remembered liking the book in high school.

I was not prepared for what a page turner it is! I couldn't put it down. Kesey tells a fine tale that wraps you up and holds you and then doesn't really let you go at the end. Some of the things that I would want to discuss are:

- Why did he do it? Why did MacMurphy decide to continue his war against nurse Ratchett when he knew where it would lead? Was he some sort of sacrificial lamb? To show the guys that it was possible to defy her? Kesey never explains why MacMurphy changes his tune from self interested gambler to heroic leader. At least I didn't catch it.

- What exactly does MacMurphy represent? Freedom? And nurse Ratchett? Institutionalism?

- How does Kesey manage to rope us in so completely? How does he make us care about a bunch of loons, a renegade and a control freak?

- I wonder what happens to Chief after the story ends.....

Those are the kinds of things I'd like to discuss. Maybe I'll look up some literary sites and see if there are other "important" questions that we need to discuss.