View Full Version : American Literature

3rd Jun 2014, 22:58
In one of its spasms of introverted self absorbent little Englishness the British government seems, like the face of the slapped arse Michael Gove, to have deemed that American literature is not good enough for our kids...

Well I tell you...!

So no, start the list here... I would start with Steinbeck but the American oeuvre is so big we would probably run right out of space here on this damn thread...

I say to Gove and his narrow minded bullshit merchants...

What will our kids do without Louis L'Amour?

Louis L'Amour - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_L'Amour)

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Theme ? Ennio Morricone [HD] - YouTube

Tell us Senor Gove, tell us?


3rd Jun 2014, 23:05
You may wish to read this before commenting further.

GCSE English literature row: Don't blame Gove, blame me | Books | theguardian.com (http://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2014/may/30/gcse-literature-row-gove-blame-me-english-literature-syllabus)

3rd Jun 2014, 23:15
If the man is so stupid as to listen to the fool quoted in the Guardian then "I know I really hate him"...

Doc Holiday and Johnny Ringo Latin Translated (What they really said) Tombstone Movie - YouTube


3rd Jun 2014, 23:30
With respect Caco, you have condemned him for a personal choice he didn't make, then condemned him for taking the advice of the professionals, even though they hold an opposite political opinion.
Other than phoning you personally, what process would you suggest an education minister follow?

If you want an argument over the choice of American Literature, can I re-iterate what's in the article. There is no limitation on the books presented to children in English Literature teaching in the UK, and never has been. The big argument at the moment is that the Inspection and assessment regime set up by the Education Department no longer, in practice, leaves room for the teacher's choices, even though theoretically there is ample room. This is an argument against the Inspection regime, not the books in the exam syllabi.

Incidentally, 30-odd years ago, my teachers did 'The Catcher in the Rye' and 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?'. I thought the former was boll#cks, and still do, and the latter entirely inappropriate for teenagers due to inability to identify with the characters. Neither of these criticisms are related to the American authors or settings.

3rd Jun 2014, 23:34
There is no limitation on the books presented to children in English Literature teaching in the UK, and never has been. The big argument at the moment is that the Inspection and assessment regime set up by the Education Department no longer, in practice, leaves room for the teacher's choices, even though theoretically there is ample room. This is an argument against the Inspection regime, not the books in the exam syllabi.

Then why are the sheep, aka the exam authorities moving the way they do?

The "kleine Englanders" are in the ascendance... and sides, no more than fools like Gove...

Damn it.;)


3rd Jun 2014, 23:42
Kinda obvious what I think.

"“Our people are good people; our people are kind people. Pray God some day kind people won't all be poor.”


3rd Jun 2014, 23:46
If you raised your kids on Shakespeare and 19th Century English classics, as I was, you'd come out with some well-rounded young adults with a sense of justice, morality, and command of the English language. Assuming you would want that...

3rd Jun 2014, 23:48
If you raised your kids on Shakespeare and 19th Century English classics, as I was, you'd come out with some well-rounded young adults with a sense of justice, morality, and command of the English language. Assuming you would want that...

Sure Ben, I was raised thus and look what happened to me, and no, not just Louis L'Amour! ;)

Kids should read freely in English from the huge well spring of world English literature....


3rd Jun 2014, 23:52
Now, the exam boards are a different issue. The syllabi in question have not been approved yet, and this is not automatic. In practice, the exam boards exist to make a profit, and in most schools the choice of board is made by the Head of Department (English in this case). The school inspection regime and league tables under Labour led to 'a race to the bottom'. The exam boards made their syllabi as easy as possible for the formerly 'D' grade student, so their teachers could get them a 'C' grade. They openly advertised their syllabi at meetings with teachers as getting higher grades than rival boards (I witnessed this at every meeting in the noughties). Thus they got more numbers. Grades were allowed to increase by 2% per year, with no longer term limit. Thus, exam grades crept up by 1.8% (IIRC) every bloody year. Assessment by coursework was increased, as this is cheaper for the boards and easier for teachers to 'influence'. At moderation meetings, the boards would deliberately give out very liberal interpretations of standards (I witnessed this personally in Science, and all my colleagues in other subjects reported the same), so that it wasn't even necessary for teachers to cheat to inflate student grades. 'Of Mice and Men' got adopted as a standard because it's bloody short and easy to coach to weak students. Any literary merit was immaterial.
The Department for Education under the Coalition has leaned on the exam boards to toughen up, and is prepared to accept the drop in grades in order to increase the credibility of the exams. The groups which recommend content are only too pleased to put some difficult books back on the syllabi. That American books are less well represented is something to discuss with the exam boards.

4th Jun 2014, 01:01
Ever since Jacques Derrida theorized that a phone book had the same literary merit as "War and Peace," modern academia has been enthralled with the idea that literature is best read with one's head stuck firmly up one's rectum. That's where these literature boards get their inspiration...not from the seminal texts or timeless classics, but from their own lilac-infused backsides.

Kids need more good art, satire, and literature, from any continent, and less ponderous, politically-correct, flavors-of-the-day. Show me a kid raised on Kipling, Shakespeare, Conrad, Twain, and a little bit of John Kennedy Toole and South Park, and I'll show you a well-rounded kid who can see through the puffery of modern socialist nonsense.

4th Jun 2014, 03:12
My Dad got chased across France by the advancing German army in 1940. It took him weeks to get from Reims to Brest. I have his diary. He records that he re-read "A Farewell To Arms". The entry ends with the words 'profoundly moved'. Got to be a hell of a book to have that effect on Dad ... and it is.

4th Jun 2014, 03:42
Schools still have libraries, don't they? What is to prevent children from reading other works on their own, perhaps spurred on by their parents, even? It's not all down to the teachers and the boards who set the syllabi.

Give the little bastards "This Be The Verse," by Philip Larkin, with its "They f*ck you up, your mum and dad," to show them that English poetry is more than just "How shall I compare thee to a summer's day?" Hah! Of course the fact that kids today drop f-bombs left and right would not prevent a great wave of righteous indignation washing over any teacher so unwise as to do that, but I still think it's a great idea.

For American poetry, how about "Howl," by Allen Ginsberg, with its "dragged off the roof waving genitals and manuscripts," instead of Joyce Bloody Kilmer's "I think that I shall never see / A poem lovely as a tree ... "? No wonder kids get the idea that poetry is for girls and mincing faggots, fed the stuff they are fed. Let's get them high on the real stuff!

I, too, got both Of Mice and Men, and The Catcher in the Rye in High School. I think that it's fair to say that there were better choices that could have been made than those two books, yes .... I re-read Catcher and the rest of Salinger's stuff not long ago, when I found the only thing that really held up was "For Esmé---With Love and Squalor." The thing was, though, that I was in a good school, plus I read a lot on my own. Actually, I read a lot when I was supposed to be doing assigned work, but that's another story.

Caco ... Louis L'amour? Why not Mickey Spillane or Ian Fleming? Sorry to have to tell you this, but that's not literature; that's just pulp fiction, stuff to be read for fun. My two cents' worth, that. Of course there must be numerous doctoral dissertations on those writers' works, but ....

owen meaney
4th Jun 2014, 07:50
Caco, I too have an appreciation of modern American Literature.
John Irving being one of my favourites

4th Jun 2014, 08:41
I'm proud to have a shelf of American literature in my den, ranging through Mark Twain, Melville, Hawthorne, Thoreau through John Dos Passos, Sinclair Lewis, Scott Fitzgerald, Steinbeck, Salinger - not forgetting the immortal humorists Ring Lardner and of course Damon Runyon.

I'm currentky working through an online collection of O Henry short stories - one per lunchtime.

Could never manage Henry James though.

4th Jun 2014, 09:04
Can I add my twopennorth to the disapproval of the unwarranted kicking Michael Gove is getting. His wife, the journalist Sarah Vine has written that she is seriously considering moving her kids to live with family overseas, as they are being threatened by other children, presumably influenced by the bile being spouted by their Tory hating parents who dont want the facts to get in the way of an argument! Here's a quote

She admitted the “one thing that really upsets me” are the emails of abuse that are sent.
“There are a lot of people who really, really hate Michael who send emails saying, ‘I hope you die’,” she said.
“I used to believe that socialists were nice but misguided. Now I know that they are not nice at all. They are very vicious and aggressive people who do really horrible things.”

tony draper
4th Jun 2014, 09:14
Bit of a Mickey Spillane man meself.:)
Nobody knows who killed Johnny Ringo Mr Cacophonix or indeed if he offed himself which is the more likely senario,
Last time he was seen in public he was said to have been suffering from the DTs,pretty certain it weren't Doc Holiday though or Mr Earp as they are recorded as being elsewhere at the time,the favorite appears to be Buckskin Frank Lesley,if he was murdered that is.

4th Jun 2014, 09:31
Chuks - thanks so much for the "kids think poetry is for girls" comment. Last time I looked, the word "kids" also connoted people of the female gender, and girls don't like mawkish poetry any more than boys do. Shite poetry is shite poetry, full stop.

That kind of casual sexism really, really pisses me off.

4th Jun 2014, 10:29
Chuks - School libraries are generally not what they used to be :{
There often isn't a librarian now, and they mostly ditched the good books to put in computers.

Take the War Poets. Most English teachers in the UK, from what I've heard, follow the anti-war therefore anti-military approach. At my school, we had our own War Memorial with 12 panels of names on it, so the approach was anti-stupid war (bad politics, poor tactics, the dark side of nationalism), which isn't the same at all. It's all part of the problem with having teachers who've never been in the real world.

4th Jun 2014, 11:54
Literature, of the "contemporary" sort, is our modern version of neolithic scratchings in caves. Writing to convey a personal focus on life or custom or habit or inner reflection is assumed to be the somehow-rational expression of language and contemporary normative reference as understood and evolved by an author's personal mind in context of the scarce lucid moments one human has to learn, to know, to comprehend, interpret, contrast and then finally to project his or her integrated personal grasp of culture-before, culture-now and culture-next.

Testing students for "clear" understandings in re literature trains them mostly in the art of bluffing - according to the locally-ordained scripts and metaphors. Literacy is linear as a sort of skill, maybe, insofar it shows degree of knack for throwing words like darts.

4th Jun 2014, 13:31
Someone named "Octopussy2" is pissed off at "casual sexism." I see .... Umm, would that be my casual sexism? I don't think so! Well, depending on your reading skills, of course!

"Kids" means specifically juvenile goats, but, yes, also boys, and girls a/k/a "[young] people of the female gender" too, if you are not doing that brevity thing we hip types like to do. That is absolutely correct, meriting a "well spotted" to you, Sir or Madam as the case may be!

I think you may find that young girls particularly are suckers for sappy poetry. That's been my experience, anyway, at least with the one who signed her letters with a heart instead of a dot when signing "Naomi."

That was quite a while ago, of course, so that current standards may well differ, but young Naomi took me for a quite, quite horrible, mean and ugly person for being somewhat disrespectful towards Rod McKuen and his "Stanyan Street and Other Sorrows" tome, on of her very favorites. Perhaps it was the part where I said I wanted to knock him down, set him on fire, and then put him out by pissing on him? You know, literary criticism, and anyway, words spoken more in sorrow than in anger. Whatever ...

A certain chill set in there, so that no more perfumed notes on colored paper, signed with a heart in place of the dot in the "i" did arrive from Naomi. I never even got a chance to try my casual sexism moves on her!

I once quoted that Larkin poem, "This Be The Verse," to the Chief Pilot's Wife, in the bar. He overheard the opening line and took exception to that. Then I drew myself up to my full height (5'3") and told him that was modern English poetry and I had "a poetic license" for that, so there.

That baffled him, so that he retreated to his corner of the bar to re-work the flight program. I ended up with a week of earlies with long lay-overs at Warri Airstrip, a martyr to the promotion of literary freedom.

4th Jun 2014, 14:00
The UK Department for Education should sort out the basics before they worry their dim little heads about the trimmings:

Functional illiteracy - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Functional_illiteracy)

The UK government's Department for Education reported in 2006 that 47% of school children left school at age 16 without having achieved a basic level in functional mathematics, and 42% fail to achieve a basic level of functional English. Every year, 100,000 pupils leave school functionally illiterate in the UK.

4th Jun 2014, 14:57
I met one of the illiterates in my first ever class; Design & Technology, year 11. The lad couldn't read and had no intention of doing so. After a couple of weeks, I got a quiet opportunity to ask him about it. "Don't need it. It's woman's work." What will you do after school? I asked "Work for my dad, then I'll take over when he retires. He can't read either - me mum does the paperwork". His dad was the town's scrap metal dealer, and the richest man for miles, so he had a point.
In fact, every kid at that school had a career plan that didn't involve moving more than 10 miles - their choice. 90% of those jobs did not require functional literacy.

Effluent Man
4th Jun 2014, 16:07
Fox,That's a good story and we have all met or known about them but I would still say that the majority of the illiterates you meet will also be hard up.I went the other way,trained as an English/history teacher and then became a second hand car dealer.I have probably made a little more money that I would have done,but then money isn't anything.

I can get lost in a book.Bearing in mind the approach of D Day I can read one of the accounts of that day and I am there,crouched in one of those landing craft waiting to run up the beach, in a Horsa waiting for the bump as the ground comes up to meet us or crouched in a roadside ditch listening to the rumble of an advancing panzer.A well written book can take you there in the way that even a brilliantly made film could never do.

Effluent Man
4th Jun 2014, 16:25
We need to look no further than JB to see that the reverse applies also.And you only have to watch a Gove interview to understand that he is a nasty piece of work.A very "sneery" sort of cove,Gove.

4th Jun 2014, 17:04
Apologies for continued thread drift, but I need to respond:

90% of those jobs did not require functional literacy.

me mum does the paperwork
...presumably as long as they have functionally literate mothers who will be alive for as long as their offspring need their services; not very likely, then.

In the UK, basic education is free and you have to attend, so why not learn the basics. That's an immature kid being allowed to demonstrate a bad business head at work (or, more accurately, at a bone idle standstill).

As the link I provided states:

Links with poverty and crime

In developed countries, the level of functional literacy of an individual is proportional to income level and risk of committing crime. For example, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics in the United States:

Over 60% of adults in the US prison system read at or below the fourth grade level
85% of US juvenile inmates are functionally illiterate
43% of adults at the lowest level of literacy lived below the poverty line, as opposed to 4% of those with the highest levels of literacy.

According to begintoread.com:

Two-thirds of students who cannot read proficiently by the fourth grade will end up in jail or on welfare.
Three out of four individuals who receive food stamps read on the two lowest levels of literacy.
16-to-19-year-old girls at the poverty line and below with below-average reading skills are 6 times more likely to have out-of-wedlock children than their more literate counterparts.

Back to American literature...

4th Jun 2014, 17:08
I was the HSE guy on a Shell operation once, when this Englishman told me I didn't have the guts to forward some safety complaints to do with the hangar. I told him, "Bring it!" so he did.

What he handed over, though, was a shock; it really looked like the work of a not very bright 12 year-old.

Now, I knew that some of the guys didn't read much; one even liked to read the Beano, but this? I had to talk to him to figure out what in the world he meant, telling him that, well, his written English was kind of rough, there.

He knew that already, explaining that his father was very well off from some sort of manual trade. The son had enjoyed an easy childhood, one where he never learned to read and write properly, what with all the fun there was to be had going to the football matches and all.

He was not stupid at all, this man, but the enormous effort, and the humiliation, I suppose, of learning to read and write as an adult was something that he clearly was never going to get past, not that he even cared to try. That seemed like such a waste to me.

I'm sure that many of us in aviation have had the experience of reading a CV that's a disaster because of poor English. The candidate might be a very good pilot, but he's never going to get his foot in the door if he doesn't know enough English to present himself well. Yet many of these people are university graduates!

Too, I just attended a so-called elite college in the States, one that emphasized the teaching of writing, where, again, I was struck by the poor quality of the written English some of these kids had. The school put a lot of them through a sort of remedial writing program, just to get them to be able to write proper English. That made me wonder how one could get through high school without already knowing how to write, of course.

Another thing is that the kids would baffle me with obscure references to modern games and TV programs, to say nothing of knowing how to make an Apple computer sit up and talk, but most of English literature was terra incognita for many of them. They had read what they were told to read in school, but "reading for fun" was something only a few of them had done, it seemed. The few well-read ones were very well-read indeed, but the most of them were not well-read at all.

Effluent Man
4th Jun 2014, 17:25
I guess it is a matter of luck.When I was a kid my mother's only real hope of glory was that I would pass the 11+.It looked a shoo in,my mate Martin and myself were always first and second in exams in the subjects that mattered.

Unluckily for mum that year they dispensed with the 11+ and the head was allowed to choose the twelve who went to Grammar School.At Secondary Modern I met up with a bunch of lads from around the town who had simililarly "failed" the exam.

I remember the one I sat next to,his dad was a truck driver.The first week he said "Have you read any Ian Fleming?" He loaned me "The man with the golden gun" It was a decent level for an eleven year old and I really got the reading bug.I have never lost it.

BTW Bob went on to become a Professor of English.

4th Jun 2014, 17:49
acbus - he didn't have to rely on his mum; there were several girls only too willing to marry the son of the richest guy in town and do his books for him.
He was not immature for his age - he knew what mattered in that business and worked at it (like D&T).

Crime & Illiteracy: Correlation does not imply causation.

I was teaching a BTEC one year to Public Service students (baby firemen, etc). We managed to get a Yeoman of the Guard to come and talk. He'd been in the SAS, drove tanks, you name it. They were in awe (I was pretty impressed myself). After a few war stories, he spent a good half hour banging on about how his lack of proficiency in English had held him back all his life - his inability to express himself clearly enough. It had real impact, and I got more effort in that area from the students afterwards.

Effluent Man
4th Jun 2014, 17:53
How many others do you know like him?

4th Jun 2014, 18:07
Read "The Verger" by Somerset Maugham!

After an excellent landing etc..

4th Jun 2014, 18:26
The scrappie's son or the Yeoman? I did know about 5 of each, but no longer. Illiteracy here is about 30% apparently, but that isn't my experience. It's true that many come out of school with little more.

Mac the Knife
4th Jun 2014, 19:01
Read Bernhard Schlink's "The Reader" (Der Vorleser)



PS: With so many excellent other choices from UK writers, I actually agree about "Mice and Men" and "To kill a Mockingbird" or Salinger - asking British kids to read these books with absolutely no inkling of American society/history in the 40's/50's is just silly.

The problem, I suspect is trying to find books that are PC enough and convey enough of the "correct" socio-political messages without having to be bowdlerised into unrecognisability (and incomprehensibility).

4th Jun 2014, 21:02
Have we come full circle; literature by illiterates? ;)

tony draper
4th Jun 2014, 21:27
The reprint of War and Peace in text speak is 23 pages long.:rolleyes:

4th Jun 2014, 21:56
My Dad got chased across France by the advancing German army in 1940. It took him weeks to get from Reims to Brest. I have his diary. He records that he re-read "A Farewell To Arms". The entry ends with the words 'profoundly moved'. Got to be a hell of a book to have that effect on Dad ... and it is.

Never read it - going to remedy that based on your, your Dad's, recommendation. Cheers.


5th Jun 2014, 06:01
If you read A Farewell to Arms, be sure also to read about Hemingway's actual war experiences, and what he later made of them.

Essentially, he fairly could be seen to have returned home to become a "Walt," posing as a wounded veteran of the First World War. In reality Hemingway simply had disobeyed orders to stay away from danger as a non-combatant charged with handing out refreshments to the troops. He went too close and got caught by a random shell, basically; he never saw combat. So his book is very much a work of fiction, something important to keep in mind. As fiction, A Farewell to Arms is very interesting, well worth a read, especially for its style, but Ernest Hemingway was nothing like the book's hero, Teniente Henry, despite many people thinking so.

Another American classic, James Thurber's The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, would make a good companion read.

5th Jun 2014, 23:29
I am with chuks on the Hemmingway thing but am glad that I was "forced" to read The Old Man and the Sea at school.

I guess my point in raising this thread (apart from the gratuitous pop at Gove) was to point out that English is a universal language and one might as well read Thornton Wilder, Kurt Vonnegut, Balzac or John Coetzee (my old tutor) as Patrick White while bumbling around with Shakespeare (who should be read as well).

And what about that old fellah that wrote The Miller's Tale while we are about it!


6th Jun 2014, 00:03
question from the cheap seats here......

which would you prefer - a few highly literate and educated teenagers who are off to university to read something worthwhile, with a large amout of failures.......i.e the current system


Get every child hooked in reading at an early age - let then find their own choices in bookage and what they want to read, then Literatureize (yes, I know) those to whom it would be appropriate.

the problem is this central control and social meddling by self important ******** (pollies) doesn't actually achieve anything apart from ruining more lives.

I cannot wait till I start Stumps on Harry Potter, which is a nice lead into real fantasy fiction but if he wants to read about Oikball then thats fine too.

I really do wish I could have not had to waste time on English Lit - i see the need for langauge, my skillset would have been far better assisted with something like Welding or Milling & Turning.

Too much bloody Beauracracy

6th Jun 2014, 00:14
I think the best course is to get children reading at the earliest age and let them read what they want, as you say, cornish.

It's worthwhile, though, to encourage reading of the classics, once a child has shown signs of becoming an adult.

6th Jun 2014, 00:31
Cornish-stormrider seems to have a sensible approach. I used to travel to and from Heathrow quite often, and I would pick up copies of "Horrible History" and "Horrible Science" series of books from the airport bookshop for my young'uns.

Those books are written and illustrated in a real British tongue-in-cheek fashion. My oldest boy (young at the time) really took to them, and he will tell you that those books started his love of reading. Funny how something can spark a child's imagination like that. It must have done something, because he just graduated college with honors, a solid engineering degree, and most importantly a good job to give poor old dad some relief.

6th Jun 2014, 00:40
I was kicked out of art class in grade 8 for "being crap" (fair cop!). After about 15 minutes outside I realised this was not a temporary thing, and the library door was directly behind me. It was in a very old stone building with a huge ceiling, oak bookcases and deep leather club armchairs. I picked a book and got settled in. Repeat every week for art class.
Twenty years later, I was informed that, after about 2 months, the librarian had ambled off to the staffroom at break, found my tutor, and described affairs.
"What's he reading?"
"Winston Churchill's 'History of the English Speaking Peoples'"
"Leave him be"

There's much to be said for letting kids control their own education to some extent.

6th Jun 2014, 00:43
There's much to be said for letting kids control their own education to some extent.

Amen to that and that's where Louis L'Amour (in my case) came into it! ;)


6th Jun 2014, 02:12
thanks for the vote of confidence - I did read quite a lot as a nipper - being not wealthy my mother encouraged me to the Library with a smack round the ear a few times........

I dabbled in this and that until I happened upon a Mr Tom Clancy.....

I am reliably informed this type of book is to be known as a good, old fashioned military Shit Kicker!!

amyway, the first one I picked up is, in my view his best work....
Red Storm Rising.

And the rest they say is history. I stil have four or five books on the go at once, some new, others re-reads.

Currently my number one author is Elizabeth Moon, writer of cracking sci fi and fantasty, although David Weber is catching up fast.
But school was not a total loss, I now owe my A level maths master a second apology - yup, in eight years I have used maths TWICE to work things out - and I dont mean basic arithmetic..

SO, Mr B and Mr S (ex shack and Nimrod nav) I apologise.

Effluent Man
6th Jun 2014, 08:17
Very similar to Fox.I used to skive off lessons that I didn't like and go to the Public Library.My truancy was highly entertaining.Re Hemingway Can I just reccommend "A Moveable Feast" .Published only after his death it is a very entertaining account of his life in Paris as an author before he hit the big time. A small,easy to read book but very good.

6th Jun 2014, 09:31
Whatever your tastes in literature, I think it is a fair assumption that all of you who have contributed to this thread are keen readers of books of one sort or another.

Re-reading this thread I have noticed that the standard of written English, with regard to grammar, spelling etc is much higher than the average found on Prune threads. I am sometimes appalled at the mistakes that I see on here, such as "there" for "their", "where for were" and so on, and a whole thread could be devoted to the intrusive apostrophe!

Apart from a few typos, which are inevitable, I have seen few such errors on this thread, which would seem to back up the notion that reading books is very good for your written English.

PS - Only one 'c' in recommend, by the way Effluent Man ;)

6th Jun 2014, 10:52
Excellent post with good points well made, TTN.

Incidentally, it's "PPRuNe". :p

Effluent Man
6th Jun 2014, 18:15
Yes tanker I spotted that immediately.I plead "typo".Could have been pre first coffee of the day. Yes Pprune..see how easy it is to do!

6th Jun 2014, 19:31
Have duly written out PPRuNe 100 times! :O

Yamagata ken
6th Jun 2014, 22:54
Mum taught me to read before I started school, and I was off. At junior school I read everything in the school library by age 10. Fortunately the town library was a couple of hundred yards from the school, so they used to let me go there to collect books.

Never could handle Hemingway. I tried a few times but never got past the first page. Mum was also a reader, so she was a very useful source of suggestions during my teens. I drove trucks for years, a good job for a reader as there's always lots of waiting around.

Agree with Matari. Both my sons loved the Horrible History and Horrible Science books.

7th Jun 2014, 00:10
Before you lot start rubbing each others` inner thighs could anyone

explain why some of the poor sods entrusted to the Government

leave education unable to read or write ?

" The Verger", a wonderful short story but pointless if unread.

ls it in the interests of the powers that be to have literate constituents ?

l wonder.

7th Jun 2014, 00:18
It is not in the interests of big businesses to have higher taxes to educate Brits when they can employ cheaper Eastern Europeans who don't argue.
It is not in the interests of politicians to admit that they are wrong when it comes to their pet theories about education.
It is not in the interests of bad teachers, or the teaching unions, to get rid of bad teachers.
It is not in the interests of civil servants or their unions to have either less civil servants, or more scrutiny or accountability of what they do.

So, directly, there is no incentive for politicians to have illiterate Brits. Neither is there a direct incentive to have literate Brits. They would be more able to recognise the lamentably cheap tricks the politicians pull to maintain a veneer of competence. There are, however, a lot of indirect reasons why many powerful groups can accept a slow decline in real standards.
Until The Revolution, of course. Then they all look pretty stupid. But they comfort themselves that Brits don't do revolutions, and anyway it won't happen in their lifetime, or even if it does they'll be able to blame someone else, since by then the average Brit will be too ill-educated to recognise the real causes.

7th Jun 2014, 00:28
Form a queue at the factory gate at 5am, if you`re picked you get a day`s


7th Jun 2014, 00:34
And woe betide you if you don't vote the way your father did (or the way your employer tells you to).:=

7th Jun 2014, 00:52
l`ve just pulled out " To Kill a Mocking


l bought it years ago but never made it to sleepy time in bed, the first

half dozen pages meant nothing to me. l got no further.

l may have to make a bigger effort.

7th Jun 2014, 04:25
To Kill a Mockingbird is pretty dated, I think, and a bit over-sold. I would just watch the movie and call that one sorted. A saintly lawyer ... as if!

Have you read Huckleberry Finn, the book Ernest Hemingway said that all modern American writing comes from?

There are Flannery O'Connor and William Faulkner, if you want to go poking around in the corners of the Southern psyche. Faulkner's "Mule in the Yard" is a wonderful read.

All the King's Men is a classic, loosely based on the meteoric career of our greatest home-grown fascist, Huey Long.

Try The Day of the Locust or Miss Lonelyhearts for wonderful weirdness, but based on California.

F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Diamond as Big as the Ritz" is another out-of-kilter tale that will leave you laughing, asking yourself, "Who could think of such a thing?"

7th Jun 2014, 23:33
Thank you. l`ll take a look.

Managed to buy Huckleberry Finn on Amazon but no Mule in the Yard even noted. Google did better with critiques of Spotted Horses v Mule

in the Yard. Also Old Man, and the Bear.

l`d better get off my ever expanding arse and make an effort.

Thanks again.

9th Jun 2014, 01:36
Have recently started reading "The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread" by the late Don Robertson. It's set in the USA, but there is also a distinct American 'feel' to the narrative - I am enthralled at the developing tale so far.

9th Jun 2014, 09:07
Just type "mule in the yard" when it will show up so that you can read it for free on-line. It's a short story, so that it would be found in a Faulkner anthology rather than as a separate book. (The convention is, when you see something in quotes, such as "Mule in the Yard," that's a short story, for instance. When you see something in italics, such as All the King's Men, that is a novel, for instance. That's good to know when you go looking for a particular work.)

This is where a bookstore used to be very useful, when someone could tell you where to find what you were looking for. Nowadays, those sort of bookstores are mostly gone.

There are a lot of texts such as that one, out of copyright and available to read for free. Or, if you want to spend a few cents, you can print them out. I just did that with "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" for a German friend who had never heard of Walter or "Walting."

There are a lot of specialist websites devoted to one particular author that have lots of their work as PDFs.