Saturday 03 Dec 2016

Mighter than the Sword
AJ Robinson

Theres an old saying that the pen is mightier than the sword, and it is often quite true. People, such as Mao, claimed power came from the barrel of a gun. They always overlooked the fact it was the people behind those guns were the real power; those aiming and pulling the triggers. Those people were always susceptible to words: the Koran, the Bible and so on.

Yet, there are also other words, which may not be awe inspiring, can be called small swords. Mark Twain said the works of the great writers were wine and his work was water. As he so aptly pointed out everyone drinks water.

Although the words of great authors have inspired me, as a child, there were little books, which had a big effect. Some, of these books, were simple and funny: Dr. Seuss or Disney comic books. Some books were bigger.

The first book I learned to read was about a turtle. Its title is lost in the mists of my old memory. Still, I still remember the story.

My first true chapter book was Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators and the Mystery of the Green Ghost. I had no idea who Alfred Hitchcock was. I found the story of three young boys solving a mystery fascinating. This was the era, of Scooby-Doo, when meddling kids, who solved mysteries, were popular.

I read still more of those stories, but never got into the Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew. These were too old, outdated, and could be ignored.

Then there were other stories. A Wrinkle in Time opened up the world of science fiction to me, and I was soon reading Isaac Asimov. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe introduced fantasy, and my mind took flight. Treasure Island took me into the past on a rip-roaring adventure to find buried loot. Other books their titles long forgotten showed me people in need: the handicapped, slaves, the poor, and so on. Some of the works of Mark Twain taught me about racism and slavery, and I was repulsed, even as I was entertained; quite the feat for a writer.

While TV and movies were easier to watch and understand, books held a special fascination for me. I could go over something again and again, if I really liked it or didnt quite understand it, I could go as fast or as slow as I liked, and I could go back and re-visit beloved characters as many times as I wanted.

Over time, certain characters, certain stories stuck with me as I got older, and I noticed that my internal images of them changed. Long John Silver became meaner and smellier, and he had more scars. Becky Thatcher went from a simple girl to a curvy teenager (I think it was the hormones getting the best of me).

With some of these stories, I eventually saw movie versions of them, and I saw the truth of that old axiom: the book is better than the movie. In most cases, the movies were quite good; yet, there was always something lacking in them. I wasnt seeing the story through the eyes of the author; I was seeing an interpretation of the story filtered through the eyes of the screenwriter, the producer, the director and the actors. That was many filters and I was the weakness of such a viewing.

As a kid, my parents read many stories to me; most are but dim memories now. Yet, tiny grains of those stories still echo within my mind and shape my life. They are the water of my soul, and I like to think that Ive passed on the same thing to my daughter in the stories Ive read and told her.

Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.

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