I find that curious now, because I was prohibited from watching certain television programs such as "Three's Company" and "The Facts Of Life" and various other programs that my mother considered inappropriate viewing for me and my sisters.
It's especially curious when you consider that a dog eared copy of "Her Secret Kinks" which was tucked behind a more respectable tome, was largely responsible for my sex education as a child. They must have known I was reading it. Right?
Note to Self: Move adult reading material from bottom night stand drawer to a more secure location.
So clearly, no censorship was imposed when it came to my reading material.
My choices were wide and varied and I devoured anything and everything that I could get my hands on. I whiled away many a Wisconsin winter afternoon with just a book and a blanket. Books have been my constant companions; my most steadfast friends.
I have not managed to pass that particular love on to my offspring, sadly. I read to them from the time they drew breath, but to no avail. As a result, I firmly believe that a person is, or is not a reader. I just don't think you can make someone love reading.
Even if you feed them a steady diet of soft spoken lullabye lore. Or raucous, toe tapping rhymes in a silly, soaring sing-song soprano. Or nail biting adventure tales told with deeply voiced declarative theatricality.
I did all of that. And I'll admit, I took it a little personally when they began to wiggle and whine and beg to be let off my lap. WHAT was I doing wrong??? WHY didn't they love books with the same depth and devotion that I did? HOW could I make them see what adventures lie beyond the stiff covers?
Nothing. Who knows. And, I couldn't.
Eventually I realized that it just wasn't in them to love reading, thanks in part to my husband's distaste for it. He's a smart and articulate guy, but he does not dig reading for reading's sake.
My children it seems, have taken after him, and despite the seeds of literacy that I have tried to plant, the bloom of passion has failed to grow. I was and am sad about that. But I am glad that they have realized other passions and nurtured them with the same zeal that I have given my beloved books.
So there is nobody in my house that shares my love of reading and literature. It's just one more instance in which I am the cheese who stands alone amongst the...umm...I don't know. Non reading cheese?
When I visit my family, I often cart a load of books with me and return with a treasure trove of new reading material to sustain me during times of literary want.
My mother, my sister and I write our names in our books and designate them as keepers or throw aways. Keepers are the ones we want back. Then we pass them back and forth and around and around and eventually my keepers make it back to the safety of my neatly lined bookshelves. The throw aways get passed on to friends, co-workers and neighbors.
This last trip I picked up "The Crazy Ladies Of Pearl Street". I was with my sister when she plucked it out of the bargain bin last December, and I remembered looking forward to reading it. It's Depression Era setting appealed to my sense of historical romanticism.
In short, I loved this book. It was sort of like my much loved "A Tree Grows In Brooklyn", but told from a boy's perspective, and set in Albany rather than Brooklyn.
But what I loved most was the language. I loved the grandiloquent, bombastic verbiage. I suppose some might find it fussy and overblown, but for a werd nerd such as myself, it was a wealth of extravagant prolixity.
I know. I'm weird, but crap like that really gets my juices flowing. Creative Juices. Get yer mind out the gutter.
But what really intrigued me was the author's name. It was listed only as "Trevanian". Not Daniel, Marv, George or Bill Trevanian. Not Trevanian Smith or Trevanian Snodgrass.
I found that I wanted to know more about this Trevanian fellow and why he insisted upon such affectation as a one word nom de plume. So, on the advice of the author himself, I went to Trevanian's homepage to find out more.
The first thing I learned was that he passed away in 1999. Bummer.
The second thing I learned is that his real name was Dr. Rodney Whitaker.
But I also learned that he wrote for many years in complete anonymity. He never made public appearances or granted interviews or participated in the publicizing of his novels. He sometimes prevailed upon a close friend to make necessary appearances for him.
Of course, such purposeful concealment of his identity sparked wild speculation about it. It was rumored that he was, in actuality, Robert Ludlum, Henry Kissinger, Ian Fleming, and even Robert Kennedy. The publishing world salivated over him for years and various publishing entities clambered to have their names attached to the elusive Trevanian when at last his true identity was revealed.
Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.
What better way to attract interest than to shun it completely?
Aside from his writing, I found myself quite impressed with him on a personal level. I like his style, his moxie, and his unapologetic contempt for the bourgeois, the crass and the common. He wanted and expected greatness from an industry in which he had placed his love and trust and for which he toiled to produce something of consequence and beauty.
Damn. He would have been one hell of a cool dude to hang out with. I envision us on a terrace, gazing at the Pyrenees off in the distance, drinking stout French coffee and talking about the how literature has become a disappointing and derelict endeavor in the face of it's increasing commercialism and sensationalism.
So I'm off to the library to unearth more of Trevanian. Apparently, he was a flipping genius and I feel the need to know him better.
It seems ironic and a little disgusting that a writer such as he languishes in bargain bins and dusty second hand bookstores, while no talent hacks sit proudly and comfortably on gleaming featured selection shelves.
But, if I've learned anything in my 39 years, it's that snobbery of any kind comes at a price; that being the eternal disappointment of unmet expectations and misplaced faith.
Ah Trevanian, how well we would have gotten on.