For years, my parents ran a summer stock theater in the Poconos. It was a family affair. My siblings and I built the sets, scrounged for props, and manned the box office. The plays were light, summer comedies, romances and mysteries, certainly not “art.” Night after night, I watched the audience reactions. Laughter, tears, fear, anticipation, relief, applause. I grew up witnessing the power of a story, even a simple story, to touch an audience and connect a roomful of people to a common experience. That’s when I fell in love.
Referencing my assignment, she informed me that my first paragraph, alone, held more impact than her best students combined over the past ten years. None of which made the slightest impact upon me. Writing was nothing to get excited about, and reading even less so. For me it was like homework: neither pleasurable nor worthy of my time. I had girls to chase and the visceral rush of riding a wave along the La Jolla shores. I was supposed to give up my social life for reading and writing? It felt like Tom Sawyer was hustling me to whitewash his fence. No thanks, Mrs. B; I’m not falling for that act.
When I was kid my grandfather paid me to read. That’s right. Five dollars for every classic I read. He offered Ivanhoe first, because he knew I loved medieval history. After reading the absurdly long novel I promptly told him how much I hated it. Suffice it to say, I read a lot of the classics of great literature such as The Iliad, Don Quixote, A Tale of Two Cities, which I also hated, and too many others to try and bore you with.
One of my earliest memories has me lying on the floor of the den, right below the TV, teaching my then best friend how to read Dr. Seuss’s Hop on Pop. I may have been three or four at the time—past the age of gleefully shouting out the letters of the alphabet while watching Sesame Street, but apparently also past the point of discovering how much fun lay in the words on a page.
Three Guys One Book has more books than we can read and review, despite our best efforts. We’d like to see some of the ones we miss each year represented on the site, so we’re looking for regular and occasional contributors to write reviews of forthcoming novels and short story collections. If you are interested, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us a bit about yourself, as well as your reading tastes and habits. Also submit a sample review (+/- 500 words) of the last book you read. We’d love to hear from you.