My son and I went to Barnes and Noble in Irvine this weekend to buy the books on his 11th grade Euro Lit reading list: A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf, Candide by Voltaire, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, and The Stranger by Albert Camus.
“Have you read any of these books?” I asked the checkout girl.
“I’ve read Candide and Pride and Prejudice,” she said.
“Candide is fun. Virginia Woolf is kind of a downer though, isn’t she? Didn’t she kill herself?
“She did,” the girl admitted.
“Doesn’t that set a bad example for the kids?”
The Irvine store didn’t have the edition of Ivan Denisovich that the boy needed but the guy at customer service was able to call around and find a copy at the Aliso Viejo store.
The boy was beside himself: “We’re going to drive all the way to Aliso Viejo?!” (Aliso Viejo is a 9-mile drive from Irvine.)
“This will help you when you read the book,” I said. “You’ll have an appreciation for what suffering is all about.”