Yesterday, I read several first pages of the short story “Good Old Neon” by David Foster Wallace. I haven’t finished the story yet to write a review, but I can’t fight the temptation to tell everyone to go read the short story if you haven’t already. College life has been a little overwhelming to a person who has always managed to find freedom in the most confined situation like me, so overwhelming that I haven’t been able read on my own any stories that I am interested in.
However, as I looked at the first sentence of this story, I was convinced that whatever I was learning about in college needed a little delay because this story was worth it.
“My whole life I have been a fraud.”
I don’t know how you feel after reading that very first sentence, but for me, I was hooked. I remember my literature teacher in high school saying that if a writer could write a good first sentence, the author can get away with the next one or two bad paragraphs. Wallace doesn’t only write a good first sentence; he continues with crafting a work that many people can resonate with in some ways. Have you ever felt like you are a fraud? I did sometimes and throughout the course of living, I find the temptation to be a fraud very, very frequent. I apologize for getting away from the main idea of my blog post, but this idea reminds me of Christian in The Pilgrim’s Progress, written by Bunyan. During his journey away from the City of Destruction, Christian faced many challenges along with the burden of sin on his back. He wanted to give up, and he met Worldly Wise who offered him a easier way to get rid of the challenges. Christian must have felt shameful to follow Worldly Wise’s instructions, but he couldn’t fight away the temptation. The older I become, the more Worldly Wise I see in the world and the more scared I am of becoming a fraud. Does that make sense? Or should I just instead say: “I am confident in being honest and fair and nice for the rest of my life”? No, I am not confident.
I also picked up the book A Path Appears by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl Wudunn, got through a few pages before coming back to read for my college classes. A Path Appears is a book about breaking cycles of poverty, written after years of reporting. It is a good book, worth buying, worth paying attention to. I cried reading the first story in it.
Now, why these two unfinished, fragmented reviews all of the sudden?
Because these books make me feel like I need to think again. I have been hiding from the pit of thoughts for too long because what I read in college is not that much of my interest. The materials that college present me with may be complicated and offer views from a new angle, but also throw me into this dark hollow hole that sparks no contemplation, but instead boredom, stress and scare. I am not blaming anyone or anything. It is a matter of individual taste and I am thankful for the informative lectures in classrooms.
But what I want to stress here is that these books make me realize again the worth of self-education. I am not allowed to abandon my love for literature just because I am in a literature class that doesn’t fit my taste. I want to think. I want to be powerful in my thoughts and be inspired to love. I want to be again the girl in high school who carries books around all the time and thinks about books more often than usual. That is why literature is so important. It makes you think. And if you think, you exist.
To read is to find myself common and shallow, instead of unique and profound. That’s how I conclude, you know.
Thank you for reading xxxxxx