Sunday, November 6, 2011

Who I Am As a Reader

New knowledge is the most valuable commodity on earth. The more truth we have to work with, the richer we become.
-Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast of Champions.
I cherish and thrive on reading. I use reading as a tool, a friend, and a teacher. Over the period of my maturation reading has followed beside me. Reading defines attribute, hobby, and occupation. In essence, what I read describes the kind of person I am, and why. Whether due to wanting a smile or to better my career, I read because of my love for comedy, story, and ways to produce more sophisticated and technical forms of writing.
Everyone loves a loud laugh. I find my laughter amongst novels of witty genius. Humor integrated into the text glues a book to your hand, not allowing the story to be closed until the end. Absurd hilariousness that embodies The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglass Adams targets my laughter likings precisely, “This planet has — or rather had — a problem, which was this: most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much all of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movement of small green pieces of paper, which was odd because on the whole it wasn't the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy.” A quote derived from the novels introduction that chases the heart that homes my laughs. Douglass captures the reader with such a mundane sense of humor that the average person just would not think of. The effect results in you slapping your knee and crying. The idea of characterizing money seems weird and hysterical. Douglass Adam’s became the foundation for why I read for laughs. Executed with grace, lathered with wit and intelligence. A novel that will make you chuckle will be a novel you court.
Humorous novels capture your love in several ways, one of them being to learn. I read to laugh, as well as to make others laugh. Reading humor in a way can be like a manual for funniness. By reading comedic literature you can pick up on witty concepts and learn how to use that humor yourself. It teaches personal comedic value. Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughter House Five plays on how we perceive humor. Rather than just plain slapstick comedy, he approaches with a different technique. Using dry, dark, and ironic humor Vonnegut makes laughs when the reader may not know if they should be. A famous line by him, “So it goes.” A depressing, grim, and also funny quote used throughout the entire novel. I am amazed by the quotes universal nature and ingeniousness. It adds a lighthearted tone to all the drama that surrounds the book and our lives. Used both when mundane events happen, as well as when someone passed. Vonnegut uses it so often that it becomes silly, like expected. An aspect such as that teaches you how humor can be found in so many different ways. Literature exposes you to varieties of forms that you may not experience in your everyday interactions.
Adventure also is an aspect of reading that sucks myself in. Traversing across country, or exploring a new world fascinates me. How people are able to create these alternate realities that function almost too realistically. It probes incredibly interesting delving into an adventure of the author’s dreams. Learning about how their mind works and comparing your dreams of story to theirs. When young I would develop wild stories, act them out, or draw about them. As I aged I began to instead write about them, decent or not. When I read other stories of adventure I become sucked in because of the creativity of some authors. The first novel that really pulled me into its adventure I discovered in my English class, Walter D. Myers Fallen Angels, detailing the experience of a platoon in Vietnam. The story is told through the narrative of an eighteen-year-old boy as his self and his company get stranded throughout the jungle. It marks an adventure I could not even make up, for its depiction of war and terror becomes so real and so personal. A novel such as that truly explains an author experiences. The main character gets involved in battle after battle that painfully tears apart his platoon, killing everyone around him. During an investigation of the village one of the main characters close companions wanders in a local. As he enters an enemy surprises him from under a rug and attempts to fire upon him. Stunned because the enemy’s gun has jammed he freezes and a moment goes by that they share right before the soldier of the platoon brutally mutilates the enemy’s face with several clips of ammunition. Events like these are difficult to replicate for their power it instills in the reader. A very strong hollow feeling gets put into the reader as they get into the adventure of the cruel world soldiers faced in Vietnam. I crave those adventures to try and look into the eyes of others.
Not only does adventure fuel my interests, but it also offers a place for myself to escape to. A sanctuary to lose yourself in, to relax and to enjoy simple fun. When I read fiction to escape I enjoy lighthearted engaging novels such as Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympian Series, an adventure of a twelve-year-old boy who radically discovers his relationship as the son to the Greek god Zeus in modern day. As I read the series I became completely integrated and lost in the adventure as the boy and his company channel through all the greatest Greek legends in their own brilliant fictional world. Rick Riordan with his extensive knowledge of Greek mythology develops an alternate world in present day that becomes so believable you wish you could experience it. In the first novel of the series The Lightning Thief the main character sends off to retrieve Zeus’s symbol of power, the master lightning bolt. As the main character escapades through Greek mythological America I felt that the world Riordan creates. I wish it were true, I lose myself and become focused on only his world. In a scene where the main character stumbles upon a roadside curio-shop in upstate New York, he gets introduced to disguised Medusa. Medusa veils herself as the owner of the shop making her character seem so believable. The way Riordan can integrate the two cultures absorbs you. Escaping into an adventure empowers your own.
Reading offers both recreational and professional uses for me. A primary reason that I delve myself into literature it to develop techniques and strategies of other writers. When I read I try to learn ways that authors use to grab readers attention so I may incorporate that same usage in my own writing. Reading lends itself as my teacher to guide me to reach my ultimate goal of becoming a professional writer. Due to my age I have not yet experienced life to the fullest so there are topics and concepts I cannot yet elaborate on. Through reading a wide variety of literature I can touch upon such concepts. Grow from teaching myself about their experiences. A novel that fascinates me for its unbelievably well written intricate genius is Stieg Larsson’s A Girl with a Dragon Tattoo, about of series of characters with intertwining conflicts that shake you when they clash. The way Larsson perfectly uses dark theme and character to pull the reader into his sadistic world. Using profound knowledge of the journalism world he was apart of and the culture of Sweden the reader becomes engrossed. Using sex and murder and vengeance Larsson never lets his readers go in a way that executes exactly how it should. The main character leaves on a quest to discover a long forgotten murder mystery in an old Swedish town. When he first begins to catch on to a trail, Larsson throws curve balls at the reader that make you unable to figure out where the novel will take you next. I want to be able to write using that genius. I want to develop a natural skill for words that allows me to hold the reader in and dictate when I want them to wander and when I want them to be grabbed.
Learning how to develop characters contributes an amazing aspect of reading. I read to learn about the various types of people, attributes, cultures, characteristics, so in my own writing I may compile all the knowledge I gained from reading and channel it. A character makes or breaks a story; they must be real and must make a connection to the reader. My ability to write characters is strengthened by every novel I read. In the infamous graphic novels written by Art Spiegelman Maus I & II, Art depicts a story of the holocaust through his grandfather. Using mice as Jews and cats and Germans Art creates this immediate segregation of characters. The characters Art and his Grandfather are so amazing because they are so real. As you read through the novel you become bonded with the characters, become upset when they do, become happy as they do. While they lay to waste in the concentration camp Auschwitz you sympathize for them. When they are abused and tortured and cheated of life you become angry. After you put down the novel when you come to the end you feel as if you know the characters. To develop such a strong bond between character and reader is what will make you a successful writer. It is what I need to perfect and experiment with. I cherish and thrive on reading. I use reading as a tool, a friend, and a teacher. Over the period of my maturation reading has followed beside me. It is a defining attribute, hobby, and occupation. In essence, what I read describes the kind of person I am, and why. Whether it be due to wanting a smile or to better my career, I read because of my love for comedy, adventure, and ways to produce more sophisticated and technical forms of writing.

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