Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Mom's Book Club

A few days before Father's Day I was talking with my Mom on the phone -- she was quite excited about something that she bought me for Father's Day and couldn't contain her excitement any longer. She just had to tell me.

She'd bought me a book.

This was the first time my Mom had bought me a book in a long, long time. Funny, because it's likely my Mom's fault that I'm such a book lover today. When I was really young and she worked at the Mini Mart in Levack, each week when the new comic books came in she'd buy a few and bring them home for me. From there, I grew to love Archie, Richie Rich and Spider-Man comic books. That love of comic books evolved into a love of books and another book fanatic was born.

I remember when I was a teenager and started taking writing seriously. One Christmas I told my Mom that want I wanted most was a reference book. When she asked what specific book I told her that it didn't matter. A writer could always use any sort of reference book -- it didn't matter what topic, as, sooner or later almost any topic would likely come in handy when doing research for my writing. I had been thinking she might buy me an Almanac of some sorts, perhaps an encyclopedia dictionary, a thesaurus, or a generic how-to book on whatever topic caught her eye. (For example, while I'm not interested in gardening, as a writer owning a good reference book on gardening might help me when writing about a character who is a passionate gardener)

I never did get my wish. Unfortunately, my Mother took it literally -- the poor woman went to all of the bookstores in Sudbury and asked them for "A Reference Book" -- she, of course, insisted this was the name of the book and repeated "A Reference Book" over and over and was met with blank stares and much head shaking. (Having worked in the book industry for the past 14 years, I'm quite familiar with adamant customers coming in and looking for a book with little or no actual factual information about it and fully expecting you to read their mind and know what book they're looking for -- I can't believe that I ended up sending my Mom into bookstores on such a similar quest) It was that particular quest that completely put my Mom off buying books for me. For two decades.

But she boldly gave it another try.

"You bought me a book?" I asked incredulously over the phone. I had to sit down. I was desperately excited. I wanted to jump up and down. I wanted to start giggling madly. My Mom had bought me a book.

"Yes," she said. "I saw the author on Oprah a few weeks ago and . . ." I didn't hear the rest of the sentence as disappointment filled my heart.

Now don't get me wrong, I have oodles of respect for Oprah and she does have extremely good taste in literature. I just approach her book club selections the way I approach most mass hyped items -- with extreme caution. I hate jumping the bandwagon on things just because they are popular. I mean, I avoided watching The Simpson's for the first several seasons because of all the hype (although Homer eventually won over my heart - how couldn't that big dumb ape not win me over?) and I still haven't read The Davinci Code. Not that I'm a snob, I just want to appreciate something for what it is rather than for the hype surrounding it. Thus I haven't picked up a book just because of its popularity.

But when my Mom handed me my Father's Day book, I was delighted. She bought me: Cormac McCarthy's The Road.

Yet again I was stunned. I had been wanting to read this book -- not because Oprah selected it, nor because McCarthy is a well respected author. But simply because it's the story of a father and son struggling together to survive in a post-apocalyptic America. I, of course, have always enjoyed post apocalyptic fiction and lately have grown quite the soft spot for father/son stories. But apparently this book contains a post-apocalyptic America filled with Zombies! (Lately I've been on a bit of a zombie kick having just finished Brian Keene's City of the Dead, the sequel to The Rising, his ground-breaking first zombie novel)

Of course the dust jacket and publisher marketing for McCarthy's The Road describe them as marauding bands of cannibals roaming around with pieces of human flesh stuck between their teeth. But let's be honest with what they really are: zombies.

It's a horror novel. Yes, it's dressed up and masquerading as literature. But it's horror. And my Mom, the woman who wonders why I can't just write a nice story, a fun romance novel, bought it for me. Gotta love her!

Thanks Mom!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Makes me want to go and get a McDonalds.