Books on my shelf, desk, and nightstand fall into three general categories:
2. Partially read.
3. About to be read.
One book in particular sits outside the bounds of these categories and haunts me. I do my best to not look at it directly lest I be hit with a pang of guilt. If it could talk I suspect it would say: “J’accuse!” accompanied with a rigorous finger wag.
Fall 1991. It was a time before the interwebs, reality television, gluten-free labels, and Miley Cyrus. I loved all things Madonna, the show 90210, and my bangs loaded with enough hairspray to cut glass. My younger bookworm self devoured the VC Andrews series, Silence of the Lambs, Anthem, Treasure Island, and Wuthering Heights.
But, when assigned Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea for Freshman English, I shunned the book. No specific memories surface regarding how I managed to simply not read it and show up for class (this is pre-wikipedia for you youngsters out there); however, the sentiment of disdain for a story about an old man fishing remains absolutely clear.
Over the years, my justification for evading this book has gone something like this:
Why require a young girl to read Hemingway? Sheesh!
Is Pride and Prejudice assigned to fourteen year old boys?
You see, I’ve been placing blame on my Freshman reading list rather than simply sitting down with the darn book and giving it a try. Although, to justify my justification, there is something to be said for inappropriate timing. Oops! There I go again weaseling out of responsibility for not reading.
A part of me feels sheepish about this vexing hole in my history of bookwormishness. How can I continue to recoil from this short novel on my shelf? Nothing I believed to be true at the age of fourteen is still true for me now. Yet, I harbor a grudge against Hemingway as though I were my younger-1991-self. It’s time to face my unsubstantiated grudge.
Thus, this week, my friends, I vow to correct that gap and finally put an end to my trepidation. Be gone, Guilt!
I will give Hemingway a chance…
“He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish.”
Okay…hold on..I think I’ll pour a glass of wine first.