Maybe I Missed The Infinite Jest

a847b856a4fd535daac0f238f559b98cI should probably like Infinite Jest. But it’s just so gratuitous.

Here at page 108, I could put the book down. Entertainment Weekly promises me that “most people who own a copy of Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace’s 1,079-page magnum opus, haven’t finished it.”

Maybe I should put it down. That’s the point of the novel, right? To look away before I slip into a stupor? Even at page 108, I’m slipping. It’s like I’m penned to this side of the fourth wall, mirroring the always speculative character Hal Incandenza. This can’t be good. To avoid being the butt of the jest, I suspect I should   Continue reading

Homer Was A Little Girl

Homer Greek poet

I know how Homer remembered thousands of lines of epic poetry: he was a child.

Because my young daughters love both Greek mythology and comic books, I brought home Gareth Hinds’s graphic novel The Odyssey. With Hinds’s adaptive narrative, I thought I’d chosen well.

But five-year-old Maia knew otherwise: “The song isn’t right, Momma. This book says, ‘Sing to me of the Man, Muse, the man of troubles.’ But really, it’s ‘Sing to me of the man, Muse, the man of twists and turns.’”

It took me a moment to respond. Before I could speak to the challenges of translating poetry, I had to wonder Continue reading

Fairy Tales Make For Dead Mothers

Gustave Dore Mother Goose

For years, I edited as I read aloud to my daughters: “Cinderella’s father went away and she was left with a cruel stepmother.” But now that she can read, Maia corrects me: “it says died, Momma, her father died.” Snow White/Beauty and the Beast/Pocahontas are easier, as the heroines’ (dead) mothers often aren’t mentioned. The mother – my role – has  been edited out for me. It’s strange to read so many stories that suggest I do not exist.

Because my daughters love magical fairy tales and heroic mythologies, I’d love to introduce them to Harry Potter and Percy Jackson. But both heroes grieve for mothers who die early in their stories, in great anguish and at the hands of evil forces. The one who lived loses his father, too, to he who must not be named. More than not mentioned, here parents die unmentionably. Continue reading