Monday, April 30, 2012

Lint in Literature -- The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2003

This "lint in literature" entry comes to you from The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2003, edited by Dave Eggers, with an introduction by Zadie Smith.

This is a compilation I've had lying around for several years. I've moved it from one bookshelf to another, but when I finished a book over the weekend and didn't have another on deck, I grabbed it and am loving the short entries. All of the stories appeared in magazines and periodicals in 2002, so they range from very short (2 pages) to usually less than 20 pages.

Imagine my delight when last night I was reading The Littlest Hitler by Ryan Boudinot and I stumbled on a line about lint. Not just once, but twice!

Mr. Boudinot was writing about a fourth grader who dressed as Hitler for Halloween, even wearing the costume to school. He was heckled nastily, mostly by the girl who dressed as Anne Frank, and was pretty much tarred and feathered during class and at recess, so he had to make a change (literally) before the afternoon parade. His teacher let him borrow her gray wig.

"By the time our parade made it to the middle school I was thoroughly demoralized. I had grown so weary of being asked 'What are you?' that I had taken to wearing the wig over my face and angrily answering 'I'm lint! I'm lint!'"

This book is full of wonderful writing that you just don't come across unless you read these periodicals in 2002:  Time, Mississippi Review, Atlantic Monthly, Little Engines, Shout, Esquire, and Columbia Review (plus a bunch of others). I, for one, didn't.


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