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shared, she asserts, by novels and newspapers: "Henry James, who did his best to exclude every bit of boiler plate from his books and who may have killed the novel, perhaps with kindness (consider the unmentionable small article manufactured by the Newsomes in The Ambassadors; what was it? Garters? Safety pins?), even James has the smell of newsprint about him." [I thought button-hooks, though I don't know why.] About the development of the modern novel: "Most novelists today, I suspect, would like to 'go straight'; we are conscious of being twisted when we write. This is the selfconsciousness , the squirming, of the form we work in; we are stuck in the phylogenesis of the novel."—all of them thought-provoking, many seemingly (in that fleeting way of opinions) incontrovertible. That business of being twisted when we write—almost like the struggle of the Fatum to assert itself—self fighting imposed self, Fact, in a twisted sense, fighting Fiction. Oh, it's uncomfortable! I could go on. And I hope Miss McCarthy does too, though she is in her eighties and not in perfect health. And long live Smith-Corona. PRETERNATURAL READING HABITS / Gerry Sloan My wife and I are engaged in the ongoing experiment of raising our three kids (ages 16, 14, and 10) with no TV. Family and friends have long since given up, viewing us as hopelessly out-of-step. It has taken our firmest resolve to turn down the many castoff sets their love has sent our way. There seems to be something in the American psyche that won't tolerate nonconformity. We stay in touch with "reality" through magazines and radio (thank God for NPR). Unprogressive throwbacks, to be sure, but we find ourselves with much more time to read. My daughters had read more books, when they started junior high, than most people read in a lifetime. Of course these included the likes of Nancy Drew and Stephen King, but also books we'd recognize as classics. My son, the youngest, tends to prefer nonfiction but admits to liking Charlotte's Web. Incidentally, the only work I know which condemns television as a medium, instead of from the standpoint of content, is Jerry Mander's (Scout's honor) Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television. Highly recommended. The Missouri Review · 187 Certainly TV can be justified on the basis of selective content. There are times I'd give my eyeteeth to see a sports event or special, but we just use this as a pretext to socialize with friends. My wife and I decided years ago we weren't going to use TV as a live-in babysitter, and we certainly don't have the time to monitor our children constantly. Whenever I'm exposed to network television for extended periods of time, I usually gravitate to Championship Wrestling or Three Stooges reruns—at least you expect them to be inane. I have a game I play sometimes with family and friends. I call it Desert Island Books—not such an inappropriate metaphor, considering the recent offerings of Hollywood and prime time (or the bestseller list, for that matter). You learn of your impending exile and can only take along five books. What books would you choose? Sample titles, from adults, include Anna Karenina, Pickwick Papers, Boswell's Life ofJohnson, A Death in the Family, As I Lay Dying, etc. I had a student once who insisted that war and strife would cease if people would take the time to read The Once and Future King. Faulkner is reported to have reread Don Quixote avidly. Mandelstam grabbed his Dante when they hauled him off to jail. My children have responded with Li'ffie Women; Caddie Woodlawn; Tom's Midnight Garden; The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe; Watership Down—depending on their latest infatuation. My own well-considered list would run something like this: (1) the King James Bible, for obvious reasons; (2) the collected works of Shakespeare, for obvious reasons; (3) TZie Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, arguably the finest American novel and the only one that I've read more than once (going on seven, last count); (4) the Baynes/ Wilhelm translation...


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pp. 187-190
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