Wednesday, August 17, 2005

And they're so affordable at the campus bookstore, too!

Somebody sent me books!

Somebody sent me a whole entire box of books!

Understand, I could never scramble together enough books as a child, because I was a voracious reader, and also a dork. There was none of this Harry Potter business back in my day. We had our Baby Sitters Club, which somehow managed to produce 41837137 books with exactly the same plot, and we liked it. We loved it.

But the new installments (Baby Sitter’s Club #798: Kristy’s Training Bra Dilemma) only appeared once every two months or so, and I had to make do in the meantime with the likes of the Archie comic I had already read eight times, because you just cannot have too much of Jughead eating another hamburger.

I was quite the little English major. My mother stocked the shelves with A Wrinkle In Time and Julie and the Wolves and Island of the Blue Dolphins, because these were Newberry Award winners, and therefore good for me to read, and so of course I got maybe two paragraphs in and went back to Archie, because nobody ever made two dates for the prom in Island of the Blue Dolphins. Remarkable coming-of-age tale about a girl living alone on an island and learning to love the sea below and the sky above, no! Two grown women fighting over a sweater vest-wearing puss with hair the color of Blastin' Berry Cherry Kool Aid, yes!

Now I am a grownup with emergency flashlight batteries and a slotted spoon and everything, and I have a veritable pile of unreads and three different libraries at my disposal. Sometimes I look at these stacks and I become frowny and wander about the apartment waiting for somebody, anybody to gently lay an enormous check atop my head so I may fulfill my true destiny of sitting around in Umbros reading the unedited correspondence of Abigail Adams and Thomas Jefferson, for until I uncover the exact cost of the lace he bought for her in Paris in 1785 I shan’t sleep a moment.

So now here is this box of books, and I keep thinking of my mother and the poor, entirely unopened copy of Sing Down the Moon she put in my bookcase, and how the biggest highlight of her young life was the arrival of the bookmobile. And here was her daughter, a college professor, with a box of books. A free whole box of books.

They were sample texts. A publishing company feigned love for me, because since I am a big girl professor now and can make my students read the warning labels on WiteOut if I want--and here was this box. Reference guides! Anthologies! Poems! Prayers! Promises!

They all sucked.

I hated one textbook on sight because it included an essay by a writer a year younger than me—a whole. Year. Younger. Than me, and I was born in January—so he, and the anthology that bore him, must die. Then there’s Global Exchange: Reading and Writing in a World Context, the title of which makes me want to find an underprivileged transgendered ethnic blind child in a wheelchair and push himher over a cliff. I’m not even going to discuss the cover illustration; simply know that it involves an image of Earth, and the holding of hands. A grammar handbook would like me to refer to minorities as—are you ready for this? are you ready?-- “world majorities.”

The sections of the anthologies are all laid out like this:

1. Painting looking as if a rabid squirrel has eaten a box of Paas Easter Egg Dye, then vomited on a canvas, for This Is Art
2. Asian author
3. Maya Angelou poem
4. White female author
5. Native American author
6. Maya Angelou poem
7. Otherly-disabled author
8. Simon and Garfunkle lyrics
9. Hispanic author
10. Maya Angelou poem
11. That other white female author
12. Obligatory Page o’ Dead White Male
13. Maya Angelou poem
14. Essay by Alice Walker about a Maya Angelou poem
15. Transcript from Oprah show in which she and Toni Morrison discuss the Alice Walker essay about the Maya Angelou poem

They are all like this. You know they sat there with a ruler and an Excel sheet making sure that the white woman didn't get more words than the Hispanic male.

Most texts don’t even bother mixing up the order section to section, which I find unspeakably discriminatory. I cannot believe they’d diss the Native American community by always placing the Indian stories and poems in the middle. Just hand around some more smallpox blankets, why don't you? And always sticking Amy Tan in front? Is that because the establishment expects her to do well just because she’s Asian?

On Monday we start with Baby Sitters Club #1: Who Will Take Stacey To the Winter Carnival Dance?

they didn't include anything by math-disabled Blonde Americans at: mb@blondechampagne.com

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