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The Beach Bag and the Booker Prize

You may have heard the old story of the Rooster and the Jewel:

One day, a rooster was scratching at the straw in the farmyard, looking for nourishment, when he came across a string of pearls (dropped by a wealthy landowner on his way to evict the poor farmer because he couldn’t make rent, what with the drought and all).

“Ho,” said the rooster. “This is a fine trinket for humans to wear around their necks, but I’d take a few grains of corn over these pearls any day.” And so saying, he buried the pearls in the straw again (so the poor farmer never found them and couldn’t cash them in, and they were all evicted).

And the moral is: Some people despise what is precious because they can’t understand it.

That is a fine old tale, but if Aesop were a modern slave to the written word, he might have called his fable, The Beach Bag and the Booker Prize:

A writer was heading off to her cabin to hole up and get some serious writing done before the end of summer. She packed her laptop, her journal, her research notes, her thesaurus, 2 kilos of peanut butter, and a swimsuit. “I should bring something to read in case I need a break from writing,” she thought.

She scanned her “to read” pile: It was full of beautifully written award winners that would touch her soul and change the way she looked at the world: Marcus Whatshisname’s Book Thief, Lawrence Whatshisname’s Book of Negroes, Whatshername Edugyan’s Half Blood Blues.

The writer’s hand paused over each cover as she pondered her choice. “Wait a minute. What’s this?” she asked, spying a dog-eared mystery at the bottom of the pile. “Ooh, Minette Walters, The Sculptress. Score.” And she packed it in her bag and off she went.

And the moral is: Sometimes you just don’t want your mind expanded.

And that’s it for this Friday. I’m off to the cabin.

(If you recently read a great book that didn’t expand your mind in any way or make you pause and think about life or affect you at all, really, beyond a few hours of fun reading, please pass on the title. I need more of those in my TBR pile. Thanks.)

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2 comments on “The Beach Bag and the Booker Prize

  1. A couple books I read lately that I positively loved and, lo, I don’t think they expanded my mind one bit: Stephen King’s 11/22/63 (I had to look up the title just now because I suck with numbers – note to self, don’t ever name a book with a number) and David Benioff’s City of Thieves. I’m in the midst of Cutting for Stone right now and it’s pretty good but not as good as City of Thieves (god, I loved that book). I also read 50 Shades of Grey this summer, just to see what the fuss was all about – it’s pretty good beach reading, I’ve gotta say.

    (Silly rooster.)

    • Thanks for the tips, Cathy. I will try City of Thieves. (50 Shades is not up my alley – but I LOVED the short story “Fifty Shades of Craigs” by Barbara Fairhead, which was on the Quick Brown Fox blog recently. (I would link to it but I don’t want to lure young readers toward it, as it makes fun of Fifty Shades, with all that implies.) Silly roosters, all of us.

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