I quoted Kurt Vonnegut in a post from a couple of weeks ago. Here, I’ll just post it again (’cause it’s awesome):
“The arts are not a way of making a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.”
Kurt Vonnegut holds a special place in my heart. And not just because he says really awesome things. He also writes really awesome books. While I can’t choose a favorite out of all the books I have ever read, I can tell you that Vonnegut’s Breakfast of Champions changed my life.
I read it when my husband and I were dating. He was an English Major and very well read and I was totally enthralled with his knowledge of books. He loaned me Breakfast of Champions to read one day and I ate it up. This was THE book in which I had that “aha” moment of realizing that the narrator was NOT the author of the story. I was discussing the book with Raf and mentioned something like, “I can’t believe Vonnegut’s mother committed suicide by drinking Draino!” Raf responded with, “Monica, the narrator of the story is not the author.” It was like a bowling ball hit me in the head. I went from dumb girl to smart girl in a matter of seconds.
Looking back, I feel like an idiot for being such and avid reader and not realizing this sooner. For some silly reason I assumed the author and the narrator were the same. Do other readers think this? Maybe I had crappy English teachers in High School. When I was a TA in college I pointed this out to a few of my students and I could tell that they had the same aha moment that I had, so maybe it is something some people assume when they read.
Anyway, Breakfast of Champions made me see this truth and it did several things. I became a critical thinker. It caused me to question. It also pointed me toward to a greater love of reading and literature and it was the catalyst that made me become a literature major in college. To this day one of my favorite things is a good, smart, book discussion.