I read The View From Saturday sometime during elementary school and it made me want to drink tea and join a scholar’s bowl team. It also taught me that “hanged” is usually the preferred past-tense of hang, which is more important than that sentence makes it sound.
I never really got “into” tea, but I did join the scholar’s bowl team in junior high and high school. Scholar’s Bowl, by the way, is tournament style high school Jeopardy, to oversimplify this wonderful event. Spelling, literature and pop culture were my strengths. My high school team won State my senior year.*
I have a history of inferring one million little lessons from anything I read, which I think is a good habit to practice. Roger Ebert once wrote:
“Why do I think reading is important? It is such an effective medium between mind and mind. We think largely in words. A medium made only of word doesn’t impose the barrier of any other medium. It is naked and unprotected communication.”
My Sunday consisted of a bit of The X-Files, the MTV Movie Awards, sunlight and open books. Saturday afternoon I finished A Visit From the Goon Squad and I know I’m very tardy for that party (Jennifer Egan won the Pulitzer for it in April and had been receiving plenty of awards and interviews for the novel since late February/early March, at least) and only seem to be joining the hype team now, but I am sure that this book is one that will resonate with me for years. Because of that, I have to encourage everyone with eyes and a brain to read it, if they haven’t already.
I know anything that’s hyped and “sheathed in laurels” (to quote the author) can seem unattractive (believe me, I know: I didn’t watch The Dark Knight for two years after it came out because I didn’t like hearing everyone talk about it) and “too hot to handle”, but this book is worth it–especially if you’re introspective or like to think about the future.
And it may be that a crowd at a particular moment of history creates the object to justify its gathering…or it may be that two generations of war and surveillance had left people craving the embodiment of their unease…
It is absolutely breathtaking and, at times, heartbreaking. Most of all, it is so relevant. I can’t recommend it enough.
Here’s my view from Sunday morning and afternoon (beware the shark attack):
*I claim that victory but I didn’t actually participate on the team that day. My friend Tracy and I were replaced by a foreign exchange student who happened to be great at Math.