literature

Meet My Cousin: William Shakespeare

OMG! William Shakespeare and I have the same first name–what magic is this? Does that mean we have the same haircut, same beard, same way we put toilet paper on the bathroom roll? Ahhh! I have to reach out to him–have to tell him that we’re practically brothers–

What’s that?

Word has…it has just come in. I apologize, folks; but William Shakespeare is…dead. If you’ll excuse me, I–I have to go shed a few tears and waste three dozen boxes of Kleenex. I’ll be back with a carton of Rocky Road and a plush teddy bear holding a heart.

[Ten hours later]

Well. I have come to the realization that perhaps William Shakespeare and I were not brothers. We were; in fact, cousins from my quadruple ten thousandth–don’t know if that’s a real number–aunt, who was one billion times removed from his great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandfather.

I don’t want to think about how much time we lost in connecting with each other.

Oh, the possible memories I could be having right now:

  • Me and Shakes–that’s his pet name–reenacting the death soliloquy from Hamlet.
  • Me and Shakes laughing at the absurd actors who joined his plays.
  • Me and Shakes petting chickens who ran amuck in old England.
  • Me and Shakes watching Breaking Bad, which is Macbeth as a TV show.
  • Me and Shakes tasting all of those tasty shakes at Sonic–then me making fun of him.

Shakespeare, the fun we could have had! Why did you have to leave so early, why; even when you knew I was going to be born in the next ninety hundred something years? I would have acted out all of your plays for you–if only you had stayed alive!

It’s happening again. A breakdown. Everyone leave me in peace, or you will see tears flow as you have never seen them flow before.

Goodbye, cruel Kleenex box with your tissues that scratch the bottom of my nostrils.

Goodbye, plush Shakespeare doll sitting in my closet because it’s where you can find the most artistic inspiration.

Goodbye, all who laughed at me for proposing we had the same name, and who now continue to laugh because I am referring to you in bold text and italics, meaning I am extremely upset and wish you to go away and find solace in a tattered copy of a Shakespearean play.

Goodbye, farewell, adieu, adieu–

But, one more thing before I bust into the Sound Of Music. It’s a question I’ve been contemplating for some time–it is quite the bother, and it goes like so:

To be or not to be.

That is the question.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

Something’s Rotten In The State Of Literature!

Say hello to literary fiction:

This is Hemingway; Dickens; Thackeray; Melville; Dostoyevsky; Shelley; Hawthorne; Wilde ; Joyce; and a bunch of other people whose books have become the gospel of literature. When folks talk about literary merit they are referring to the novels and short stories which have won the acclaim of critics.

Repeat that? Won the acclaim of critics? Boy…they must be skilled–hard enough time it is to work a compliment out of them on a piece of popular fiction…mainstream.

Allow me to introduce popular fiction:

This is King; Koontz; Rice; Rowling; Straub; Dickens–he’s a special guy–and the names written on the novels advertised on the shelves at Wal-Mart. They are good stories: each one–not every one–has well constructed characters and conflicts. Their entertainment value is never-ending.

The problem?

According to literary fiction…popular fiction is trash; it is crap.

That teen vampire novel you finished reading? Crap.

Every dystopian young adult series, excluding The Giver? Crap.

The wonderful wizarding world of the boy who lived? Crap.

Anything not written with symbolism, profound themes, and/or meaningfulness in relation to this whirling torpedo we call life is utter crap; as somewhere along the literary historical timeline one person set a divider between the world of entertainment and the world of meaning.

But the popular writers have their two-bit, as well: apparently all literary writers are snobs who care for nothing but the works which inspire in them eternal meaning–I have used that word a lot; but it is the premise of many a good piece of literature. They like commenting on how those writers never frequent their genres…save for a good laugh at its quality.

The separation is uncanny. Can we not write together?

[Commence playing Why Can’t We Be Friends? by War]

You should; however notice I never said unbreakable divider.

We are all writers here. We are all chasing after ideas–sometimes those ideas can be considered insane; take Poe for instance, he was a creative genius with some questionable ideas. And we have all dreamed of seeing that brilliant letter declaring our acceptance into the publishing realm.

I see it as two children bickering on the playground. The one with the wide rimmed glasses and dress pants is insulting the child wearing Hammer pants and mismatched socks; and the Hammer pants child is criticizing the effort at tidiness taken by the other. Such a battle has no worth to sustain its longevity. Let the kid wear his darn Hammer pants; sure they went out of the style in the 80s, but Shakespeare has been out since the Renaissance.

Put simply: we need to move past those artificial barriers and focus on the real reason for writing, which, as we all know, is enjoyment. We need to go to our writing sanctuaries and write because we love doing so; and then perhaps the desire to criticize will be drowned out by quiet restfulness.

While all books are not to be read under the same light, all books should be read.

Think daily,

A Southpaw