Favorites Series guest blogger Sergio Aguirre lives in Washington, DC, works on Capitol Hill, but wishes he wrote for Grantland. He worked for Bryan Skeen in Atlanta, GA, from 2001-2002 at Fox Sports South.
I read Christi’s post about Bryan not reading books. I knew this about him. I’m not sure I totally buy that he doesn’t have a favorite book though. Bryan is really smart. He went to school. They make you read books in school, and to pass from grade-to-grade, they test you on things like knowledge of books that you have read. So I’m guessing that he liked one of those books more than all the others. But I guess that’s beside the point. He doesn’t read books anymore, and Christi devours them. It’s a gulf in an otherwise obnoxiously perfect relationship. Two quick asides: 1) Before I met my wife, I looked up to Christi and Bryan’s relationship and always wanted my marriage to look like theirs – so I vouch for all the coupley stuff Christi put in her Favorites post; and 2) my wife (then girlfriend) and I decided to read each other’s favorite books while we were dating as a way to get to know each other better. Hers was The Red Tent, a biblical story re-told with female narration from one of the women in the story. Mine was All the King’s Men.
I first read All the King’s Men in 11th grade. I remember my English teacher, Mrs. Guyton, and I remember where I sat in that class (back left). Put aside the literary tricks that I first learned about in this book, like the narrator’s name being Jack Burden (and he carries a heavy burden in the book!) and Willie Stark (Willie sees things in black and white?!). All the King’s Men, to me, is about when do the ends justify the means. I was blown away by this dilemma. It’s a question I still think about today. Willie Stark ruined some people’s lives to bring prosperity to a great number of people. Jack Burden went along with it, but knew every dark secret that accompanied progress. I’m fascinated with this choice, and it may come down to whether you’re a moral absolutist or moral relativist. I’ve been accused of being the opposite of what I think I am. This book had a profound effect on me. I work in politics now. Robert Penn Warren had something to do with that.
The bad news is that I know Bryan fairly well too, and this is not the book to get him hooked on books. It’s too long, and too slow (my wife said so). I myself have drifted away from fiction. It doesn’t hold my interest. I told my wife on our first date that all I read was non-fiction. She quickly asked the waiter for more wine, and told me later that she thought I was pretty boring. My friend in Chicago asked me to start a blog with him a couple of years ago, Two Dope Boys in a Cadillac, and I thought it would be fun, and also combat my aging, boring persona. We put some stuff up in 2012, but have been dormant for most of 2013. It was my attempt to climb out of the boring (or serious) rut. It does concern me though, both Bryan’s lack of book reading, and my lack of fiction interest. Here is why. I’m not a doctor, but as I understand the human brain, there are different parts of it, and just like a muscle, all parts need exercising. The creative side, you know, the one that enjoys reading fiction (or painting or writing), really hasn’t gotten much of a workout for me in a while. I fear Bryan’s reading-a-book part of his brain might have atrophied. If anyone can feed it, it’s Christi, but it’s going to be hard.
A final plea. My wife and I are about to have our first child, and we have discussed themes for the baby’s room. We settled on a dream/imagination theme. We were inspired by an Albert Einstein quote that we saw in Santiago, Chile, in a little boutique art shop. It reads, “La imaginacion es mas importante que lo conocimiento.” Imagination is more important than the known. I do think it’s easy for adults to lose their sense of wonder. So maybe the baby’s room theme is a little bit for us too. So come on, homie, pick up a book. You might discover something you didn’t even know existed.