Ben Peek (benpeek) wrote,
Ben Peek
benpeek

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The Rules

Q., one of my students, is in year six. A few months back he convinced his mother to buy him a bunch of books from one of those discount book catalogs--I'm sure you've seen them. Buy ten books for ten dollars, or something like that. There are record ones, too. I'd been helping him find books he'd like to read, since most of the stuff he was being given bored him to death, and looking at a lot of those books that schools and libraries gave him, I couldn't blame him. The fact that he decided to then go out and try and find a bunch of books on his own was, I thought, pretty cool, not that it has anything to do with me. Until I saw the books, of course.

See, Q., in using the brochure to navigate his purchases, used titles and covers to direct him.

Books with broken dolls and the title that promised killer dolls caught his attention, as did other titles about houses burning down, and the dead rising from the grave. The one title I can remember from all these books was The Book of the Dead by Patricia Cornwell.

Y'know, the crime writer.

In fact, all the books he bought were from the cookie cutter murder mystery airport crime novel section.

I didn't laugh because it was one of those learning mistakes and because I also knew he had five crime novels to read and there was no way he was going to last through them unless I read a few. Fuck me, I wasn't going to last through those. He gave me one of them to read before him because he had noted, with the book with the broken doll on the cover, that no doll had come to life and began killing people, as in proper literature. It was hard to fault that line of logic, of course, and I'd yet to see something that wasn't livened up by a killing doll. Anyhow, the book I ended up with was simply awful: a middle aged detective, his wife, and their middle class, white world that involved helping poor Hispanic house keepers, and finding out why rich white girls were not showing up in the wreckage of a plane that crashed. I made it about seventy pages before I put it down, realising that I was suffering for nothing--I could just tell him that the book was good, that it was excellent in fact, and lie like the well practiced liar that I am when it comes to the books people in primary school read.

He told me, after reading that book, that I couldn't be trusted now.

Fair enough, I thought. I wouldn't trust me either; but, still, I got him to read the Cornwell book.

"It's so boring," he told me last night. "Nothing happens."

"That's not true--someone has to die."

"But it's so boring even with that. And it's so big. Why write a book that big?"

"It's not that big."

"It is. It's violating the rules of literature. It's quality over quantity, and this book is breaking the rules."

Ah, but I felt like I was Bill fucking Cosby for a moment there.
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