Pam Webb

a writer's journey as a reader

Titular Epiphanies

Foto einer Glühbirne (an),

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sometimes I am embarrassed how lacking in literary enlightenment I really am. Here I am writer, reviewer, teacher, Book Booster extreme and I have to hang my head in embarrassment about my novel naiveté. Honestly, dunce cap time.

This has happened before, but really hit hard recently. Not once, but twice.

What do you notice about these two books?

  • author?
  • attractive illustration?
  • title?

All of these probably grab our attention. Granted there are different covers available, but the author and title remain the same.  Why then did it take me three or so reads, spread out over a few years, to finally get that light bulb-over-the-head moment of “OMY! This is what the title REALLY means?  Does it mean I’m dense or does it mean I’m getting my bearings as a reader finally?

With Room With a View I boldly (I mean in like SHaAZaM) I realized Lucy sees people as rooms, and how some people, like some rooms, provide a view or not. Views are important if you are going to spend time in them. Ditto for people.  It wasn’t about Italy. At least, not as much as I first thought. Silly, silly me.

Then we come to My Antonia. Such a magical book, how it transports me to the prairie pioneer era. Yes, it’s about Jim’s fond recollection of his childhood friend Antonia (that My part in the title)–but then the KA-TinK of the light chain which illuminates the additional meaning–Antonia is a metaphor for all those indomitable women of the prairie.  She is the collective My that Willa Cather so adeptly presented to readers in her trilogies and short stories.

Sigh. It’s a good thing I teach literature, because I still have a lot to learn. Because they so wisely say the best way to learn something is to teach it.  Now, I’m wondering how many other literary epiphanies are waiting for me on the shelf. I hope they aren’t giggling at me.  Maybe those are just giggles of anticipation as they await to pop up and say “SurPriSE!”

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5 thoughts on “Titular Epiphanies

  1. I love the idea of some of your book titles giggling on your shelf waiting for you to discover them; that’s adorable.

  2. What can I say? I’m that way, too. I cut myself some slack because my undergrad is in engineering, not the most literary career. It took me until age 40 and admission to a writing program for me to get any real exposure to literature. And yes, I often feel like the dunce in the room. I’ll be happy to sit in the corner with you and figure out the deep thematic elements together. 😀

  3. Pingback: Poet Appreciate #1: Willa Cather | cricketmuse

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