A friend recently e-mailed me and mentioned that she had re-read Earth Abides, an apocalyptic novel, which she had recommended to me a couple of years ago, and I loved. She said it was strange, but on the second reading, she wasn’t as impressed with it as she was upon her first reading in her younger years. We agreed that perhaps having read many more apocalyptic novels, just living life longer, having more life experiences, discussing books with others, and seeing movies changed our perspective toward “things”
I told her the perhaps, as Thomas Woolf said, you really can’t go home again: childhood homes seem smaller, first elementary schools look old, are entirely updated, rebuilt, or torn down. Maybe the same holds true for books.
I remember reading Catcher in the Rye in high school when it first came out, and no! it was not assigned. I borrowed a friend’s paperback and kept it hidden from the teacher. I thought, “You go, Holden! Tell your parents ‘what for’!” At the age of forty in an Adolescent Literature class in graduate school, I wanted to turn Holden over my knee and paddle him.
All that said, it’s funny isn’t it how perspective can slant perception.