The Far Side of the Literary Debate

Illuminated book laying open with thw word 'Literature' above , written in cursive script
Comic Books as Literature?

Genetic Anomaly

My three children are all hilarious  —  quick-witted spewing witty comebacks that amaze me. I have a great sense of humor and I can’t hold a light to any of them.

All three were in the gifted program in grade school. They loved the sciences but none of them cared for literature. I sympathized because two subjects I had to hold my nose to endure in college were Literature and History.

I deferred both subjects as long as I could when making my class selections.

Group of nursing students standing around a dummy patient lying in bed in nursing school clinicals lab

Wouldn’t You Know It?

When I started Nursing School, I noticed a nasty literature requirement on the course curriculum. Ugh. (Lip curl.)

However, being the creative person I am, I found a loophole and I didn’t have to look far!

My nursing school was a faith-based university. One of my English options was ‘The Bible as Literature.’ Jackpot! I was thrilled because taking that class would be like cheating. You see, I’d been raised attending church three times a week from a toddler, so I had an advantage. I never had to study. As luck would have it, the final exam turned out to be taking a blank piece of paper and listing all 66 books of the Bible in chronological order. Nailed it! 100%. A+.

Woo hoo. Crisis averted.

Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor?

I suspect I inadvertently enabled literary delinquency in my offspring. One of my grown sons still lists his favorite book from childhood as ‘The Far Side: The Complete Collection.’

I’ll never forget the day that I flipped through a few pages of one of the early collections when I was cleaning his room.

Have you ever had one of those moments when something not that funny strikes you the right way, and you cannot stop laughing? That happened to me.

One memorable cartoon had two cows sitting next to each other on the couch, watching TV. Motion lines appear around the phone ringing on the end table. Hearing the annoying ringing, one cow turns, looks at the other, and says, “Well now, isn’t this great? The phone is ringing, and here we sit with two un-opposable thumbs!

Again, I have no idea why I was susceptible that day, but I howled in laughter.

Inside Jokes, Our Own Urban Dictionary

Oh great, here we sit with un-opposable thumbs” is now part of our family lexicon. It denotes encountering a ‘situation’ that’s sure to require a little time or creativity to resolve.

Given our penchant for humor, I suppose I should be glad any of my children can hold decent jobs and contribute to society.

Man walking on sidewalk outside Barnes & Noble bookstore

Relax Folks, I Did Foster a Love Of Lit in One of Them

After my kids were grown, my ex-husband and I raised a grandson from birth. He was also in the gifted program, but he became an avid reader right about the time he was potty trained.

He would read anything. Luckily, he didn’t inherit my aversion to fiction and history. Rather, he had the patience to stay tuned for tedious character development and long flowing descriptions. He and I spent many a day at Barnes & Noble camped out for hours reading books in his preschool days.

After reading the complete Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew series, he went on to devour everything published by his favorite authors: Roald Dahl, Beverly Cleary, Judy Blume, Shel Silverstein, Mark Twain, and Hans Christian Anderson , to name a few.

Been There. Read That.

One day when he was probably eight or nine years old, we were book perusing books at Barnes & Noble when I noticed an end cap labeled ‘Children’s Literature.’

I quickly called him over and asked if he’d be interested in any of the books there.

On the table were children’s versions of books such as 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, The Chronicles of Narnia, War of The Worlds, Diary of Anne Frank, To Kill A Mockingbird, Little Women, The Hobbit, etc.

He replied, “No, thank you, I’ve already read them. Can I get a Calvin and Hobbes book, please?”

I said, “Now wait a minute. You’re expecting me to believe that you’ve read every one of these books?”

“Yup,” he confidently said, adding boastfully, “And I read the adult versions, not these children’s summaries.”

I still didn’t believe him, so I began naming the book titles and asking him to tell me the storyline. My bad.

He launched into very detailed summaries, including characters, key moments, and plot twists. After finishing his verbal book report on ‘To Kill A Mockingbird”, I lowered my head and made an acquiescing ‘Oops, I’ve been busted’ grimace.

Admitting defeat, I then nodded my head in agreement, promptly turned on my heel, and walked over to join him in the comic books section to see about Mr. Calvin and Mr. Hobbes.

~ Sometimes you just gotta laugh.

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