Sunday, January 27, 2008

Surrounded by Would-Be Flappers

January 27, 2008

The Sunday

"People over forty can seldom be permanently convinced of anything. At eighteen our convictions are hills from which we look; at forty-five they are caves in which we hide."
--F. Scott Fitzgerald in "Bernice Bobs Her Hair"

I wonder what I thought of that statement when I first read this story in my early 20s? Fitzgerald himself was only 24 when he wrote this story, and I find that statement remarkable. Did I ever utter anything so profound at that age? I'm not sure I necessarily agree with him, but still.

Today I’ve been immersed in the Jazz Age: F. Scott Fitzgerald, the Roaring Twenties, and flappers. Tomorrow we’ll be discussing “Bernice Bobs Her Hair” in the American Lit class I teach. I love this story, and it’s perfect for teaching to high schoolers. There’s a wonderful 45-minute movie, as well, but we don’t have access to a VCR for tomorrow and our library doesn’t carry the DVD. We’ll have to add this to our list of movies to watch on weekend get-togethers.

I was surprised at the scarcity of lessons plans on the internet for this story. I could find dozens for The Great Gatsby, but no one seems to be teaching Fitzgerald's short stories. I loved Gatsby and have read it several times, but it's Fitzgerald's short stories that I've always found masterful. I can remember going through a time in college when I devoured Fitzgerald, and I lamented that I hadn't been around in the Roaring Twenties. I look forward to discussing this story with my 18 teenagers tomorrow.

In other reading endeavors, I finally got around to writing reviews for the wonderful memoir The Horizontal World and for The Witch of Blackbird Pond. I finished another absolutely fantastic book, Broken for You. This is Stephanie Kallos's debut novel, and it is phenomenal. I'll post a review sometime this week. I've just started Ann Marie MacDonald's The Way the Crow Flies, which is great so far. To the kids, I'm reading The Sign of the Beaver by day and a "Dear America" book to Laurel by night. (Randy's reading Chitty-Chitty Bang Bang to Duncan in the evening.) This week I'll also be re-reading Steinbeck's The Red Pony in preparation for American Lit class next week.

And one more reading challenge: I'm reading through the Bible this year. I haven't done this purposefully in 20 years, although I've probably read most of the books through several times in the past decade. A few months ago Laurel said to me, "We read this story before! Why are we reading it again!" I explained to her that, even though I've been reading the Bible all my life, I find something new nearly every single time I read a particular story or verse or chapter. And that is the tell-tale sign of a good classic.

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