This week in Fragments and Shrapnel I am taking a cue from Neil Gaiman and closing a few tabs on my web browser. I have a running list of links on my computer I keep open when I’m browsing Facebook and add to it when I come across something interesting that needs sharing. The list has been whittled down to a few odds and ends with no matching theme and must be purged for new content. Much like leftovers.
It was the best of times and the worst of times. It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. Sound familiar? These are just a few of the entries (except for the first line) the American Book Review listed as the 100 Best First Lines from Novels. I read enough books and can honestly say that if the book doesn’t grab me from the first line, I put it back. I want to be drawn into the plot and stand in the aisle of Powell’s and shut out the world. Believe me it, it happens. My favorite opening line from a book that did not make the list comes from Nick Tosches’s book, In the Hand of Dante: Louie pulled off his bra and threw it down upon the casket. It wasn’t the best book in the world, but that line made me buy it. Good marketing, Nick.
Switching from books to music, last week was a rough one for teens struggling with their identities. At last count, 5 teenagers killed themselves becuase they were bullied or outed as gay. I had to take a step back and ask what century were living in becuase it can’t possibly be the the 21st. The only good to come out these tragedies is celebrity messages of hope and demanding an end to bullying went viral. Ellen Degeneres recorded message and columnist Dan Savage started the It Gets Better Project. It was heartening to see the response but unfortunate that so many teens had to die. No one likes being a teenager even if they say they do. When I was a kid I latched on to books and music to get me through the rough times. Music was a big deal in my home as my parents were always listening to the radio or playing records and tapes. Yes, tapes. Stop laughing. This week National Public Radio asked what songs got you through your adolescence? It made me pause and think about my vast collection of tapes I played loudly and on repeat.
Here’s my list:
U2 – The Joshua Tree
Nirvana – Never Mind
The Violent Femmes – The Violent Femmes
The Dead Milkmen – Beelzebubba
Depeche Mode – Violator
Peter Gabriel – So
I could include some hair bands I listened to but there’s no room for Aqua Net in teenage brooding. What about you? Were there any songs or books that got you through your teenage years?
The music tab has been closed and the language tab remains open. An article recently published in the NY Times asks if our mother tongues shape the way we think. I never really thought about it until I had to assign masculine and feminine properties to chairs, doors, and vegetables in high school Spanish class. This well-written article is long but very thorough and might change the way you think.
The tabs are closed and the list is crossed off but before I leave leave I must conclude with this PSA: Make sure you tune into A Closer Look Health and Lifestyle Edition on Tuesday October 5th. Pam is interviewing stage and screen veteran, Carol freaking Channing. She’ll find if diamonds really are a girls best friend and what she thinks of all her drag impersonators.