I grew up in a United States — perhaps a whole world, but I’m staying with my experience — that was a youth culture.
Older people ran things, of course, and still do, despite the youngish tech billionaires of the day, but the concept of what is cool and good and the thing to do is built around youth.
And of course, I am from that generation that said “never trust anyone over thirty.”
I am considerably over thirty now.
This is not a rant about what’s wrong with young people. I like young people. Generation Z reminds me of my activist and hippie youth.
I think they’re smart and have a lot of great ideas and we should listen to them.
But one thing I keep figuring out is that I understand things more deeply now than I did at 19. Or, for that matter, at, say, 27.
We writerly types tend to also be readers and one of the things that comes up regularly is re-reading books that mattered passionately to us when we were young.
I have, in fact, just checked Catch-22 out of the library. I wrote a major paper on it in college. I read it again in 2001 after the September 11 attacks and the launching of “Homeland Security.”
I’ve just started my re-read. It’s possible that Heller will be one of the few male “literary” writers of the 20th century that I will be able to keep reading.
I read so many of those guys when I was young, working around their misogyny, identifying with the male characters and learning to despise certain kinds of women. I can’t do that anymore. It was destructive then; it’s just too painful now.
But there are writers who shouldn’t be thrown out with the bath water, so to speak, even if they are “of their time” as the polite term has it.
Rereading books is how you discover which ones to keep. Continue reading “Reading and Rereading”…