My Infant Son’s Reaction To Serious Literature

2666 by Roberto Bolano

2666: A Novel
2666: A Novel

The first time that Jean-Claude Pelletier read Benno von Archimboldi was Christmas 1980, in Paris, when he was nineteen years old and studying German literature…

Appeared bored and confused by this opening, doing a lot of looking around, starring at the trees swaying outside the window, looking for something (wooden blocks scattered near on the floor) that would actually entertain him. I leaned forward and said, “this is a classic you will read when you’re older,” and he leaned forward, directly hitting my face with his face, and while laughing attempted to pull my lips off.

Verdict: He’s going to love this book in the future when all of America is 2666.

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov


Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins…

Really likes this opening, especially the part where it says “Lo. Lee. Ta.” I repeated this several times and he waved his arms wildly and laughed with his nose scrunched up and spitting up saliva bubbles. Seems like a Nabokov fan for life. I said the final line in the paragraph, “Look at this tangle of thorns” in a menacing, deep voice, because I thought it was funny, but he looked really scared so I had to make my normal, somewhat depressed face, and repeat “Lo. Lee. Ta” several times, which made him laugh even more in contrast to the scary voice.

Verdict: He likes Nabokov’s playful wordplay, but not his penchant for the dramatic. Agree.

Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace

Infinite Jest
Infinite Jest

I am seated in an office, surrounded by heads and bodies…

Didn’t register at all, so I repeated the sentence again and he made his “mouth-fart-motor-boat” sound for about eight seconds before I kept reading, stopping at the line, “I am in here” while making intense eye contact with my son who again went back to his “mouth-fart-motor-boat” sound while drooling on himself. I asked “Do you like David Foster Wallace?” and he fell backwards, hitting his head on the pillow I strategically placed behind him before I began this ridiculous essay.

Verdict: The name David Foster Wallace had the power to knock him over, so appears obvious he will become a fan and I will one day have to answer him when he asks, maybe when he’s a teenager, “Dad, why did David Foster Wallace kill himself?”

Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy

Blood Meridian: Or the Evening Redness in the West (Vintage International)
Blood Meridian: Or the Evening Redness in the West (Vintage International)

See the child…

Immediately started laughing, so I started laughing too, and the laughing got louder and louder as I read Blood Meridian to my baby. Seems to love the opening darkness and will probably be a Cormac McCarthy fan for life, hopefully for the right reasons, and not because he relates with the Judge. I showed him the opening page because he kept grabbing for it and he tried to eat the paper which seems fitting regarding the subject matter within the pages. I almost told him the ending because it’s so great, but felt weird and like a pervert.

Verdict: Big fan. Can’t wait for his book report on it sometime between grades 3 and 4 and the following parent teacher meeting.

Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon

Gravity's Rainbow
Gravity’s Rainbow

A screaming comes across the sky…

This is one of my favorite books so I think I put too much pressure on myself to “read it well” to my baby and it resulted in me doing some kind of whispering/quiet/serious voice, which is my public reading voice, which is annoying. He leaned forward as I read the first page and when I looked up he was on his back and rolling on the hardwood floor, hitting his head, hard. I sat him back up and repeated “a screaming comes across the sky” and he stared blankly at me.

Verdict: Can’t tell. Either the words “a screaming comes across the sky” are forever lodged in his brain and he’s still processing it, or he thinks Pynchon is totally overrated.

The Recognitions by William Gaddis

The Recognitions (American Literature (Dalkey Archive))
The Recognitions (American Literature (Dalkey Archive))

Even Camilla had enjoyed masquerades, of the safe sort where the mask may be dropped at that critical moment it presumes itself as reality…

Absolutely no reaction. Considered trying to read him all 900 plus pages in the shortest amount of time possible just so he could have so much Gaddis in his head. Would either make me the best father in the world or the worst.

Verdict: Go back to your hole, Gaddis.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Great Gatsby
The Great Gatsby

In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since…

Acted the way he does before a nap — cranky, animated, lots of yelling. I think there’s a passage in Gatsby where Fitzgerald describes curtains blowing across the floor on a room and compares it to a wedding cake or something. I tried to find that passage, couldn’t, and in the time spent doing so my son had tried to eat his hand off because he’s teething.

Verdict: Would probably prefer Zelda because who doesn’t. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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