I was at a dinner earlier this week at The Stockade Inn in Schenectady, NY, in celebration of the Children’s Literature Connection. It was an intimate, modest, friendly event with under 100 attendees, featuring keynote addresses by Karen Beil and Jennifer Armstrong.
I love this photo of Karen in the classroom.
I mean, there it is, there it is right there.
Anyway, I got to chatting with a librarian about this and that, and we hit upon the subject of books on tape. Or CDs, rather. She had a long commute to her job and passed that time by listening to books. We talked about that moment when you are in the car, listening to the book . . . while sitting in your driveway, unwilling to turn off the engine. You don’t want to get out.
Anyway, the story: At one point, she decided to try the Charles Dickens classic, A Tale of Two Cities.
Listening to it on her way to work, she found the story confusing, nonsensical, poorly structured, maddening. The book had strange flashbacks, then jumped forward in time, characters were angry, then they were happy, then they were mad again. It was crazy, a hot mess of a book. She told me, “I hated it, HATED IT. I was saying to myself, ‘This is a classic? I hate this stupid book. It makes no sense!’”
Later on, at home, she pulled out the book and began flipping through the pages, trying to find her spot. She went forward, then back, then flipped forward a few more pages. Something was wrong. There were gaps, things left out, while other scenes seemed out of order.
Then she realized the problem: “I had accidentally set the CD player on RANDOM!” she told me with a great laugh. “I listened to the entire first disk that way, bouncing from track to track, and I hated it!”
I’d like to report that she has since rectified the problem, and gone on to appreciate this work of classic literature. But, alas, she is too scarred. “I still hate it,” she confided. “I will always hate it.”
I think even Charles might understand.