Somehow it seems appropriate to mention today (06/06/06) that my brother gave me Salem Kirban's 666 , a precursor to the Left Behind series which my sister now claims to be reading, back in the mid-70s. His insistence that I read it was in retaliation to my well-intended suggestion that he might like J.D. Salinger's Franny and Zooey . I was awfully fond of the Glass family in those days and I had the idea that he would appreciate Franny's attempts to pray without ceasing— which, to my mind at the time, seemed awfully similar to his own all-consuming religious efforts.
Instead, he took offense, and I got Lecture Number Whatever on how I was reading all the wrong things and I should turn away from the false and on and on and on until 666 was thrust into my hands to put me on the straight and narrow path of godly reading and righteousness.
I didn't read it.
I made a bit of an effort, honestly, and I still remember the line the wife kept saying to her husband--"I'll see you at the Rapture"—and I reached the antichrist, but I just. could. not. get through it.
I don't even know what happened to the copy he gave me.
And now here it is, one month short of 30 years after his life abruptly ended, and I'm looking this stupid book up on Amazon to see if it's still in print, to see if anyone besides my brother even read it, and I can see the same divide in the reader reviews that had managed to separate me from the sibling I'd previously felt the most connection to.
Because he was smart. Because he liked to read. I was young and I thought that was enough.
But it wasn't.
And that was the first apocalypse.