What Literature has Taught Me
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"The Corrections" taught me to look more kindly on my dog's varied behavioral problems - territorial angst, abandonment fears, irrational rage, irrational desire - most of which stem from his inherent dogginess.
"The Great Gatsby" showed that crashing strangers' parties could be fun, informative, and fulfilling, but no one likes a voyeur.
"The Scarlet Letter" revealed to me the ancient literary axiom of "plot, plot, plot" can be flawed; somewhere along the line there needs to be a buffoon, a drunken quack, or a dirty joke.
"The Last of the Mohicans" made obvious the magic of a movie-version.
Homer's "Iliad" opened my eyes to the Greatest Generation.
"Notes from Underground" paved the way for Iggy and the Stooges.
"Lysistrata" unleashed what everyone has been waiting for all along: a triumphant combination of "The Producers" and "Sex and the City."
The Bible confirmed that no one likes a know-it-all either.
"Mutiny on the Bounty" affirmed my long-held faith in the workers of the world, united.
"The Quiet American" made it obvious why I bet on southern college football teams and not eastern rowing clubs: wagering on the immoral is just throwing good money after the bad.
"Lord of the Rings" showed that a properly cool name is three-fourths of any successful endeavor e.g. babies, paperbacks, pets, distant galaxies, new diseases.
"Murder on the Orient Express" clarified the horrors of grades K-8.
"Dracula" illuminated the perils of foreign travel: fatigue, disingenuous sleeping arrangements, and unappetizing dietary options.
"Delta of Venus" prefigured another literary axiom: "Smut always sells, especially if written by a woman with an umlaut above her name." Ladies, start your umlauts.
"The Sound and the Fury" forced me to reconsider my Dixie-centric gambling habit. On any given idiot...
No book has ever explained to me what the expression belles lettres actually means. I have a strong suspicion it is a combination of belle epoch, the sad bells of Rhymney, and Kentucky Derby day.
"Lear" made me fear for my life.
"Love in the Time of Cholera" lets me defeat that fear. Sometimes.
"The Kama Sutra" stressed the importance of pre-game stretching exercises.
"The Ginger Man" forecast many of my own varied behavioral problems (same as the dog's, plus laziness.)
"North of Boston" showed me why ancient mystics used to burn certain books of unbearable knowledge.
"Gimple the Fool": If I was capable of explaining what "Gimpel the Fool" taught me, I'd be an ancient mystic.
"Treasure Island" made it plain that every great adventure (fiscal, sexual, psychological) begins with a lost map.
"The Pit and the Pendulum" was a lesson on why to avoid Baltimore at all costs.
"And Then There Were None" made me love one of the world's deepest truths: that by the end everyone is dead, and the only way to identify the killer will be the belles lettres we have left behind.
Tobias Seamon reads between the lines.