Thursday, February 5, 2009

Pleasure Reading

Is there any such thing as "pleasure reading" for an English Major? I was taught all throughout my college career (anf even before then by my sisters) to read in a certain way. Paying attention to the themes, the symbolism, and what isn't being written as much as what is. There are very, very few books that I can read once. Generally, I read it first with my collegiate instincts and then the second time for the joy of the story.

I have to admit I am a romance novel junkie. They are such easy reads, slide into the dream of two characters who, with such little conflict it's almost comical, end up with each other. My favorite part about these types of books is that the two people know they are supposed to be with each other. There is never a male protagonist who thinks, yeah- she's just like the other ones, but I'm getting old so I'll settle. My life is as far from a romance novel as possible. So the one exception to my rule of reading is romance novels.

I love a good mystery/thriller/suspense novel as well- unfortunately, I can't read it for pleasure. I generally guess who it is before the 6th chapter. Good detective skills? No. A writer can -9 out of 10 times- guess where another writer is going. I've only been stumped once.

A couple of days ago I started reading a suspense novel called Trickster by a Scottish writer. The book's main focus is Canadian-Indian heritage. For the first time in ages I read a book for the story. The night I finished it, I just sat down and cried.

Like most Americans, I am a mixed breed of several different countries. The most prominent is the Italian side of me- my grandmother is full blooded and I spent most of my childhood with her. But she always noted that where now its "cool" to have different ancestral blood, it wasn't always the case. My grandmother made it a point to tell us about the trials most immigrants faced in the "New Country" because she married a German/Irish/Choctaw. My father was an American mix- he had it all. The most prominent of his heritage was Chickamogee Cherokee.

Maybe I had such a strong reaction to this book and the cruel treatment of the Canadian Indians because it is another part of who my family is and ,by short extension, who I am.

So I read this book that thankfully ended well and I realized that I had just "pleasure read" my way to tears. It woke in me all these memories of my childhood and ancestral past that have since been clouded by my joy of over priced handbags and other accessories.

Therapy comes in many forms. Mine is, without a doubt, poetry. So after giving myself a night of sorrow, I started writing.

Totem Tree

I follow the path of so many before me
down to the river, past the stump of
old maple

torn down.
No chants now- only folded hands. Tears
make trails down my face as they fall

toward the ground to create a map of my
grandfather's land. Years ago he told tales
of his father and his father's father. My

grandfather was Buffalo King. He would say
Listen to the wind. It tells stories of days before
we were born to cherish and pass down.

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