another memento book moment that i’m great-full for. this is a moving story that offers pro-institutional insight from an unlikely source. RIP, mister-thanks for all your work.
“Even though I hated the books they made me read, I was a good reader. Reading was the only part of school that was bearable. We were seated in rows, boy-girl-boy-girl. I was the anchor in my row, meaning I sat in the last seat. Every day each person had to read an assigned passage out loud. As the anchor, my performance would determine whether my row got a gold star or graham crackers and milk at the end of the week. A girl named Gloria sat in front of me. I would get so wrapped up in winning the gold star, I would try to help her when she got stuck, momentarily forgetting what the other kids thought of me. But she never accepted my help, even though she couldn’t read very well and even though it might mean losing out on the treat or the star. She just turned around and hissed, ‘Don’t help me, Carl,’ slapping the air with her hand.” (19)
“I didn’t know anything about dangling participles or run-on sentences, but because I’d read a lot, I could mostly tell which sentences were right and which were wrong. When the results were posted, everyone, including me, was surprised that I received a high score. At first I thought it was somebody else’s score, but no, I had really passed. At the age of sixteen, I was officially a high school graduate.” (56)
“Lewisburg had a weird rule: Guys in segregation always got first pick at the library books, even though it was assumed that anybody bad enough to be in solitary wasn’t going to be interested in reading.” (83)
“My reading changed everything for me. I discovered that people I had never met knew exactly how I felt-so well that I could use their writings as reference points in my own life. Literature gave me a vocabulary I could use to express my deepest feelings and the insight to understand that my situation was universal. I escaped in a way far more satisfying than any tunnel under a prison wall, into a completely new world.” (91)
“Literature taught me about tenderness, and as I learned, I experienced tender moments of enjoying my own humanity. Ironically, it was in prison that I really understood what it means to be tender. Finally, /finally/, I had a label for the piece of me I knew was missing but had never been able to identify, that blackest of all the black holes in my soul, the one that was tender. I had survived for nearly twenty-seven years in a desert without it. Literature was my oasis.” (93)
read on. (i saw a sticker for kudo‘s campaign strategically placed on the vag of an american apparel model).