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Wednesday, April 11, 2007
"I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don't let anybody tell you different."
I made the mistake of signing up for a "normal level" English class during my freshman year in high school, which basically amounted to "remedial." We spent the year with books best forgotten while higher-level classes down the hall tackled Shakespeare. Frustrated and bored, I asked my teacher to recommend some outside reading. She directed me towards two titles: Animal Farm and Slaughterhouse Five. These served as a gateway to the likes of Catcher in the Rye, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, The Great Gatsby, 1984, The Monkey Wrench Gang and who knows what other bits of 20th century literature bent on "taking the piss" on the American Dream.
By the end of the year I was calling myself an anarchist and had begun what is sure to become a life-long love affair with cynicism. Vonnegut played a heavy part in that. Three years later I would go on to write a 10-page essay on Breakfast of Champions. The grade I earned for my efforts? A B-. Seven years later? A liberal arts degree. If she had passed along a copy of A Midsummer Night's Dream instead, maybe I'd be a doctor now or at least a semi-successful criminal.
Thanks, Ms. Wood. Thanks, Mr. Vonnegut, you misanthropic, old prick, you.
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