Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Good-bye Carl Freedman.

Dear Secret Blogiary,

Many years ago when I was in college, I was required to take a “senior seminar” class in order to graduate. Beyond any hope, I found myself taking, with my BFF Lindsey, the senior seminar to top all senior seminars: Science Fiction and Fantasy in Literature.

Thrilled to be taking such a cool sounding class, I pushed down feelings of uncertainty about the professor. I had taken classes with Dr. – before and I was never fully impressed. Oh, she knew her material, but I always felt like she threw things at us on the cuff, never really planning out anything. And while as a teacher I can say some of my best teaching days were those when I taught on the fly, I can also say, I do much better when I have a plan and modify it as I go if needed.

I might not have liked her classes, but there was no way I was going to pass up the chance for a senior seminar class that actually focused on my favorite form of literature.

Enter the stack of books for this class:

The class itself was about what I expected. “Exploring” the books together, no real plans, just a touchy-feely haphazard trip through the semester. The fun was taking it with BFF Lindsey and a few other friends. But it was the book by Carl Freedman that made the class so intriguing.

We tore the book apart ridiculing Freedman ever step of the way. I scrawled scathing comments in the margins, wasted tubes of highlighters on each page and referenced other books and authors who had said it better. BFF Lindsey and I would compare our comments after each assigned reading. Of course, being a college student, I knew everything and was quite high and mighty in my arrogance and superiority and I had no problem discuss Freedman’s flaws in class.

Fast forward nearly ten years and Carl Freedman is still sitting on my bookcase. Proudly displayed among my other college library: Shakespeare, Chaucer and Milton, thick English Lit books, thin religious tomes, Pamela and Wuthering Heights, etc. I’ve not given these books a second glance since putting them one the shelf and swiping them with an occasional dusting cloth.

With the move upcoming, I’ve had to reconsider my priorities and really look at my books with a critical eye. Prior to this move I had upwards of nearly two thousand books in my house. When I by a book, I make a commitment. I offer the book a forever home, making promises that up until this year I have kept.

Now, books have to go. There isn’t any other choice. I have too many and will soon be in a house that cannot hold them. Tough decisions had to be made.

I started with three piles in front of my bookcase: Keep, Donate, and Undecided.

It was easy at first. All the novels I read once and knew I would never read again quickly went to the Donate pile. I hesitated over my stack of Christopher Moore books. The only one I reread is The Gospel According to Biff…the rest found there way into the donate pile. Keep was also easy, philosophy anything stayed, the Riverside Shakespeare? Keep. Milton? Keep. And on it went until I got to Carl Freedman.

Carl Freedman spent two days in the Undecided pile along with the rest of the Senior Seminar books, a stack of Templar Histories, and some literature anthologies. At one point, Freedman even went back on the shelf, I was so torn. But in the end, it was Mister W who set the stage for a good-bye.

Mister: So…book packing seems to have stalled out a bit.

Me: Yeah…I’m having some separation issues.

Mister: Need help?

Me: NO!! I mean, no, honey, thank you, I do not need you to throw out all of my books.

Mister: Do you need some advice?

Me: (sigh) Sure, honey.

Mister: You are showing a tendency towards hoarding—


Mister: Let me finish. You have the tendency, you know you do, and you get it from your Dad. For the most part, you have it in check except when it comes to your books and your crafts. Everything else you have no trouble parting with.

Me: .... And?

Mister: If you know that you are never going to read the books again…then—

Me: Yeah…

Nothing gets me motivated more than being compared to my father’s hoarding.

So, good-bye, Carl Freedman.

I will keep all my fond memories of you, but it is better that we make this a clean a break as possible. I give you, reluctantly, to the local library along with your shelf-mates.

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