Wednesday, March 14, 2012

On Why I Don't Usually Read Fiction

There is a very good reason for why I don't typically read fiction. I'm a voracious reader. Once I start a good book something happens to the tendons in my hands and they refuse to pry themselves from the edges of the pages.

I read long into the night.

I forsake everything else in my life. The house falls apart. The dog raises the children. My husband forgets what I look like--which is a good thing because I fail to shower, brush my teeth, and get out of my pajamas. Alright, I'm exaggerating. A little.

I read The Help in a matter of days. I read several of Ted Dekker's books in just a few nights. I read The Hunger Games in six days. The trilogy, that is. I read the first book in one. Then I forced my husband to stop everything he was doing to read them. He doesn't have a church to run or bacon to bring home or a life of his own. He's at my every beck and call, really. "Troy, take every waking moment out of your life and read these. Now. Your very existence depends on it."
We literally devoured them. Those books never saw us coming.

I read them in the morning. I read them in the afternoon when Matthew was taking a nap. I read them late at night. I read them in line to pick Garrett up from school. I read them at the doctor's office while the boys looked at the fish. I considered reading them in the shower but they were on loan from a friend and she may not have appreciated me upon their water-logged return.

"What's happening?" I'd ask Troy who wasn't quite as far as me. Then, knowing what to say and what not to, we'd discuss what was going on. Garrett became intrigued. Obviously not wanting to tell our son the actual premise of the book...

You see, son, the books take place in a post-apocalyptic world, in a country where North America used to be. The government is corrupt. The people are starving. Every year one teenage boy and one teenage girl are chosen from each "district" to compete in a televised battle which will have only one victor. The other 23 will be killed. It's good times, kiddo.

...we glossed it over because, well, he's five. 

Um. Yeah. So. The books take place in a future world. The people in charge are bad guys. Every year 24 teenagers are chosen to compete in a game. ON TV! They get put into a big arena with trees and creeks and a lot of supplies. They get to use knives and go hunting and wear special clothes and, well, it's kind of a lot like camping!

Okay so we didn't actually lie. We just omitted. A lot.

When we finished reading all three we just kind of sat and looked at each other for awhile. It seemed there was precious little left to live for. I asked Jesus to take me home. After a few days I just decided to start writing the fourth book in the series so that at least I would have something left to read. But I'm really kind of too busy to be hijacking an author's characters. So I abandoned that otherwise great idea and the two of us turned to obsessing over the upcoming film.

Did I picture Katniss like that?

Is that what Thresh looked like in my head?

Is Foxface's nose pointy enough?

Troy brought home a People magazine dedicated to the movie. I read it in about fifteen minutes. And then my oldest son became completely obsessed with looking at all the pictures. "Can I go see The Hunger Games with you?" He asked. Simultaneously, Troy and I almost screamed, "NO!"

"Why not?" He asked. After all, it's just a movie about a bunch of kids who go camping. With, you know, intent to kill. The first book is basically a mingling of The LotteryThe Most Dangerous Game, and The Lord of the Flies. It's all fun and games until someone shoves a boulder down a hill and Piggy dies. Er, uh, until there's an all out blood bath at the Cornucopia.

"Um," we stalled. "It's not a good movie for little boys."

"Does someone die?"

Well if that isn't the understatement of the century.

Troy and I talked Hunger Games strategy. What would we do if we suddenly found ourselves in such a situation. How would we survive? It's what we do. We talk theology. We talk child rearing. We talk ridiculous hypotheticals.

"I'd run into the Cornucopia and just get the inevitable over with quicker," was my strategic response. He frowned at me, apparently not satisfied with my answer. It seems he thought he'd married someone tougher, someone wiser, someone who was actually worse at math and doesn't know that a less than 5% chance of survival is simply not good.

Garrett remains obsessed with the magazine. And all things Hunger Games, really. Since he doesn't understand what happens in that arena, he has said some hilarious things. "Mom, when I grow up, can I be in the Hunger Games?" "Matthew, stop bugging me or I'll put you in the Hunger Games." "Hey, Mommy, were you ever in the Hunger Games, you know, before college?"

Oh my dear, sweet, wonderful child, if Mommy had ever been in the Hunger Games, she would not be around anymore. Her strategy, after all, would have been to simply sprint straight into the blood bath.

See, I told you. There is a very good reason for why I don't typically read fiction. 

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