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Carissa Green Reads

I read widely from many genres. Perhaps this blog will feature fewer ratings and reviews, but I certainly intend to write about my reading life - it's the subject I most find myself wanting to talk about.

Currently reading

John Adams
David McCullough
Chicago Poems
Carl Sandburg
Chekhov Four Plays
Anton Chekhov, David Magarshack
The Gay Science: with a Prelude in Rhymes and an Appendix of Songs
Walter Kaufmann, Friedrich Nietzsche
A Kierkegaard Anthology
Robert W. Bretall

Beware the Reading Guide

Flight - Sherman Alexie

I recently read Sherman Alexie's YA novel, "Flight," and I liked it well enough. Because it has a gimmicky plot device and a lot of frank violence, I connected less with the main character, "Zits," than I did with Arnold Spirit, the main character of Alexie's widely-praised "Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian," even though both evoke a deeply human pathos in the reader. 


The novel's not the problem, though. It's the "Reading Guide" by one Barbara Putnam so thoughtfully provided by Grove Press at the end of the book. Here's my PSA: Don't read the reading guide. It's awful. Besides just some flat-out factual errors about the book, the questions include many that are just Putnam's opinion about the book couched in language that forces the reader into agreement. Others are based on stunningly ill-informed generalizations about Native American culture. Still more are just plain offensive. 


Want a sample? I thought so.


From question 1, about Zits' zits: "Does he seem liberated by inhabiting clean-faced people in his travels?" Yeah, he's too busy avoiding death to think about being clean-faced in his time travels.


From question 2: "How is shame at the heart of dislocated Indians?" Is it? I don't know. Most of the Indian people I know have a lot of pride. Shame might be projected on them, or it may be individual, but hey, go ahead, make a sweeping generality. 


From question 4: "Does he make you think of Holden Caulfield in his teenage alienation? Anyone else?" Uh, clearly he makes YOU think of Holden Caulfield.


From question 21: "Quite apart from his original acne, Zits acquires other disabilities as the book progresses." Acne is a disability? Huh? He acquires grave bodily injuries, but not really "disabilities" per se. 


I could go on and on, but just trust me, the reading guide, while it didn't diminish the novel, just mostly pissed me off. Skip it and be happy.