I saw this meme at Tiger by the Tale, and thought it was cool. Thanks, Tiger!
1. How old were you when you learned to read and who taught you?
I never consciously learned to read. I picked it up by sitting on my grandfather’s lap as he read to me. We spent hours reading together. I read on my own at about 3 years of age.
2. Did you own any books as a child? If so, what’s the first one that you remember owning?
The first book of my very own was one of those little “Golden Books”, Mickey Mouse Builds a House. My grandfather still spent time reading to me, but by the time I was six or seven, we switched to his choice of books. We read The Cossacks, by Gogol, together in the unabridged version. A favorite ploy of his was to plead fatigue and have me read to him. I remember reading aloud the scene where the two brothers were escaping from a jail cell in Moscow; as they crossed the prison courtyard, they stumbled over a man who had been buried alive, with only his head showing above ground.
3. What’s the first book that you bought with your own money?
It wasn’t until I was in High School that I ever bought a book with my own money. We always had books and magazines at home. We had literature, philosophy, history and science books. The one subject area where we were sadly lacking was porn, although my Grandfather did have one or two little paperbacks novels hidden in his sock drawer. Since they mostly featured girls, they didn’t do a lot for me. Fortunately for me, there was a porn shop in town, and I would ride my bike there on Saturdays and hide out behind the stacks. I bought any number of paperbacks of sex stories. They always seemed to wear out quickly, though.
4. Were you a re-reader as a child?
Absolutely. In Elementary school, I almost memorized all the Winnie the Pooh books. In Junior High School, I read all of the Captain Blood novels again and again. I loved the Black Stallion books(GAY!), and My Friend Flicka(even more GAY!). In High School, I read and reread Moby Dick(most GAY! of all). Oh, and I read Nancy Drew(the dead giveaway).
5. What’s the first adult book that captured your interest and how old were you when you read it?
In non fiction, either Mankind Evolving, by Theodosius Dobzhansky, or The Act of Creation, by Arthur Koestler. In fiction, The Cossacks, by Gogol. Billy Budd, by Melvlle, stirred me deeply. I saw something of myself in that sailor.
6. Are there children’s books that you passed by as a child that you have learned to love as an adult? Which ones?
Definitely. Somehow I missed The Wind in the Willows,by Kenneth Grahame. I read that much later as an adult, and it became a favorite of mine. I still read the Winnie the Pooh books. They take me away to a simpler, happier place.
In some ways, I had terrific advantages growing up. Life often seems to find a balance, though, and in some ways I faced challenging circumstances as a young person. Reading kept me sane, gave me a safe place to go to when things got rough, and allowed me to see that there were different possibilities out there, if I reached out for them.
Look what this lucky fellow is bringing home from the library. Someone forgot to tell him you check out books from the library, not boys. We probably went to the same Graduate School. TCU had a great library, too.
This passage from Moby Dick describes the process of breaking up the Whale sperm(relax, it’s not that kind!), so that it can be processed along with the blubber.
While some were occupied with this latter duty, others were employed in dragging away the larger tubs, so soon as filled with the sperm; and when the proper time arrived, this same sperm was carefully manipulated ere going to the try-works, of which anon.
It had cooled and crystallized to such a degree, that when, with several others, I sat down before a large Constantine’s bath of it, I found it strangely concreted into lumps, here and there rolling about in the liquid part. It was our business to squeeze these lumps back into fluid. A sweet and unctuous duty! No wonder that in old times sperm was such a favorite cosmetic. Such a clearer! such a sweetener! such a softener; such a delicious mollifier! After having my hands in it for only a few minutes, my fingers felt like eels, and began, as it were, to serpentine and spiralize.
As I sat there at my ease, cross-legged on the deck; after the bitter exertion at the windlass; under a blue tranquil sky; the ship under indolent sail, and gliding so serenely along; as I bathed my hands among those soft, gentle globules of infiltrated tissues, wove almost within the hour; as they richly broke to my fingers, and discharged all their opulence, like fully ripe grapes their wine; as. I snuffed up that uncontaminated aroma,- literally and truly, like the smell of spring violets; I declare to you, that for the time I lived as in a musky meadow; I forgot all about our horrible oath; in that inexpressible sperm, I washed my hands and my heart of it; I almost began to credit the old Paracelsan superstition that sperm is of rare virtue in allaying the heat of anger; while bathing in that bath, I felt divinely free from all ill-will, or petulance, or malice, of any sort whatsoever.
Squeeze! squeeze! squeeze! all the morning long; I squeezed that sperm till I myself almost melted into it; I squeezed that sperm till a strange sort of insanity came over me; and I found myself unwittingly squeezing my co-laborers’ hands in it, mistaking their hands for the gentle globules. Such an abounding, affectionate, friendly, loving feeling did this avocation beget; that at last I was continually squeezing their hands, and looking up into their eyes sentimentally; as much as to say,- Oh! my dear fellow beings, why should we longer cherish any social acerbities, or know the slightest ill-humor or envy! Come; let us squeeze hands all round; nay, let us all squeeze ourselves into each other; let us squeeze ourselves universally into the very milk and sperm of kindness.
P.S. Even though I was sort of a prodigy as a reader, in math I was almost helpless.
Things really do balance out.