Monday, June 1, 2009

From the Favorite Books Bookshelf: #2

Just a reminder that while I'm away, I'm posting some excerpts from book on my "favorite books bookshelf." Answers will be posted on Thursday...though I suspect more than a few people will recognize this one:

When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow. When it headed, and Jem’s fears of never being able to play football were assuaged, he was seldom self-conscious about his injury. His left arm was somewhat shorter than his right; when he stood or walked, the back of his hand was at right angles to his body, his thumb parallel to his thigh. He couldn’t have cared less, so long as he could pass and punt.

When enough years had gone by to enable us to look back on them, we sometimes discussed the events leading to his accident. I maintain that the Ewells started it all, but Jem, who was four years my senior, said it started long before that. He said it began the summer Dill came to us, when Dill first gave us the idea of making Boo Radley come out.

I said if he wanted to take a broad view of the thing, it really began with Andrew Jackson. If General Jackson hadn’t run the Creeks up the creek, Simon Finch would never have paddled up the Alabama, and where would we be if he hadn’t? We were far too old to settle an argument with a fist-fight, so we consulted Atticus. Our father said we were both right.


Another easy one. Sometimes I look at the spine of this book and wonder if it really should stay on the “favorites shelf”; maybe if I were to reread it, this book wouldn’t now seem as good and as complicated as I remember it being. But when I typed out that passage, I admired how in three paragraphs the reader is drawn in, wondering about these dramatic events, and even more masterful, how the book’s themes of justice and what is “right” are telegraphed so perfectly.


DC-area author Leslie Pietrzyk explores the creative process and all things literary.