Reading at Whim

Some American poet (Google him yourself; I’m too lazy.) is famous for exhorting his public to “Read at whim! Read at whim!” Well, I like advice which I already follow anyways, so that’s what I’ve been doing.

Hearing snippets from O’Bama’s “citizen of the world” speech in das Vaterland, I was reminded of Heinlein’s old juvenile yarn Citizen of the Galaxy. That book, Wiki taught me, had been inspired in part by Rudyard Kipling’s novel, Kim (published the year of Heinlein’s birth: 1907). Okay, good enough; I had the novel in ebook form on my PDA, so I dove in. Sadly, the ebook had so many annoying OCR errors (Does nobody edit anything anymore?) that I went in search of a nice printed version at the annual AAUW used book sale, a real madhouse of bargain hunters held each August in this my city.

No luck so far as snagging a Kim was concerned, and I didn’t find Citizen of the Galaxy either, but look at the nifty, beat-up copy of another Heinlein juvvy I found: Time For the Stars. It wasn’t quite this beat-up when I purchased it. Poor little paperback! You survived how long: four decades; five? And who knows how many owners? But when you fell into my hands it was curtains for you. You didn’t ask to come with me while I did yardwork and handyman jobs. No, but I insisted you ride in my pocket. Now look at you: tatters. You’ve lain on your last Used Book table. The Relativity Time Dilation that forms the core of the Heinlein story (Telepathic twins are used to maintain Earth/Starship communication at near-lightspeed, so the Earthside one grows older, while, etc. etc.) has caught up with you. Into the bin you go, aged youth. Maybe you’ll be reincarnated as a Starbuck’s Coffee Sleeve.

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2 responses to “Reading at Whim

  1. Oh, I remember that one! :o)

    He really should have stuck to juvenile literature.

  2. I agree. The “bildungsroman” allowed him to be what he was at heart: a teacher. And the constraints of juvenile fiction (at least in the 40s and 50s) kept his crackpot tendencies in check.

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