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>Call Me Grownup

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What I just read: The Little Prince – Antoine de Saint Exupery.

Six-word synopsis: Little Paulo Coelho’s very favorite book.

In retrospect, it seemed like a brilliant idea: I suggested reading The Little Prince for book group. It’s a classic. It’s short. It would help me ratchet up my numbers for authors from other countries. All the members of BOOKLEAVES went for it.

Sigh. What the hell are they doing, listening to me?

This may be another one of those books I read too late in life. I appreciate the philosophy about how you can only see properly with the heart, rather than the eyes, but the rest of it — the sheep, the prideful flower, the “types” on their different asteroids, and the constant application of “grownup” as a withering epithet left me cold. My Tough & Cool Inner Bookworm has reassured me that my complete failure to appreciate this gem means that I’m a literary philistine.

I like Saint Exupery. I love his dashing and handsome aviator pictures and it tickles me that France put him on the 50-franc note. I’d like to read about his adventures in his nonfiction books like Night Flight and Wind, Sand and Stars. I’m sorry that his plane mysteriously went down and he died when he was just 44 — but The Little Prince seems like so much blather. I guess I’m not sensitive and obviously lack finer feelings — but at least now I know how Paulo Coelho gets away with doing the same stuff over and over.

The next BOOKLEAVES meeting is Sunday. We’re skipping our usual venue and going to Dr. Fish. Dr. Fish is also a coffee shop, but the gimmick is that there’s a fish pool you can stick your feet in and the fish nibble at the calluses and other nasty buildup on your feet. You’re probably wishing that I could somehow stick my heart in the pool and let the fish eat the tough and scaly crud that has grown up around that. I’m just hoping that at least one other person in the group is also a curmudgeon.

What if EVERYONE ELSE loved this book with that quivering, worshipful devotion that it seems to inspire? What if everyone loved it in English and en francaise? (One of the members, Karen, is from Montreal, so she’s most likely re-reading Le Petit Prince.) Should I hide my feelings, and doggedly keep my mouth full of the all-you-can-eat jam toast (which includes real butter) that Dr. Fish thoughtfully provides? Should I air my opinion and hope like hell that the other members don’t gang up and decide to drown my sorry, unenlightened ass in the fish pool?

I’m going to go now so you can commence feeling overwhelming pity that I’m a grownup and have forgotten all the important things. Meanwhile, I need to read something noir-ish like James M. Cain, Dashiell Hammett, W.R. Burnett or Jim Thompson to take the taste out.

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