Thursday, April 03, 2008


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When somebody mentions “literature,” what’s the first thing you think of? (Dickens? Tolstoy? Shakespeare?)



My daughter, who'll graduate from college next month with a degree in Slavic linguistics, started reading Dostoevsky back in 8th grade. At some point in 9th grade she informed me that she'd determined the distinguishing element that separated a work of literature from mere fiction:

It had to have a prostitute in it.

Such a witty girl.

Do you read “literature” (however you define it) for pleasure? Or is it something that you read only when you must?

Something else my daughter told me.

She took an intro to philosophy class (discussed Dostoevsky's prostitutes with the instructor), then told me she'd figured me out: I was a hedonist.

What took you so long? I asked, no doubt offering her a chocolate chip cookie.

All that highbrow stuff, she said, between crumbs. But you just read it because you like it.

Aren't I lucky she's never taken an abnormal psych class?

Booking Through Thursday


  1. MargaretWV8:55 PM

    "What took you so long?"

    I've been trying to think of a clever, Dwight-related way to nudge you back to blogging, and here you are, saving me an evening of looking up song lyrics.

    Welcome back!

  2. Dwight lyrics? Oh, I'd love to see what you'd come up with!

    These came to mind immediately:

    Please, please baby, baby come back home/
    It's so cold and dark here all alone/
    If you come back I promise I'll be good/
    If you come home, baby, I'll act like I should.

    It's just inertia. I should never take a break again.

    Thanks for missing me. :)

  3. Bright girl! :-) I think the "prostitute requirement" makes Terry Goodkind's "Sword of Truth" series a super-classic. :-)

    Have a great weekend!

  4. But haven't you noticed that many of the really entertaining stories are narrated by prostitutes? And really long stories too (Sugar in Crimson Petal...). Maybe they just get away with more than a woman within society's bounderies. This might make a good dissertation topic, you know?


"I don't believe in ghosts, but I see them all the time."

Sherman Alexie cancels book tour for memoir about his mother.