Thursday, December 19, 2002
Can you remember the first book you ever read? I mean the first real book, not a children's book. The first book that was an accomplishment, the one that made you feel good when you read that last page, the one that eventually led you to read others.
I don't recall the title of mine, but I embarrassingly remember I was already a sophomore in high school. However, it was still a milestone.
The truth is, I spent most of my time in school working hard not to do any work. I swear I must have had 15 books assigned to me before I decided to read one. I blame the school system -- it gave me C's for doing nothing. But I know it was really just my obsessive stubbornness to be lazy.
I took a sick day from school when I read the book -- I just wanted to stay home from school.
I got bored, picked up the book, which was assigned from my English class, and read a little, then put it down; then picked it up again, then put it down. I picked it up one last time and read for hours.
It was a story of an orphaned Indian boy, who was a gifted rodeo bronco rider. He had an alcoholic guardian, who made the boy throw his rides, raking in the cash by betting against him. The boy left the guardian and eventually earned the name Horse Killer for killing all the horses that tried to buck him off.
As I recall, he killed the horses out of sure will not to be bucked off and desperation to be the best, not out of spite.
I read the entire book in one day and was genuinely moved by the story, more than any other storytelling medium had done before.
The Indian boy still sticks in my head as the introduction into the world of literature, and I thought about the story while going through the books for Front & Center this week.
Today, I'm pretty picky about the books I read and the ones I give to people. Probably I just want to re-create that first experience and hope to be able to give it as a gift to others.