On other side of the pond some British politician is receiving accolades for reading. Why, that’s nothing to get excited about: the guy in the White House reads, too. In fact, my friend Chris Baker of Wired has given extensive thought to Bush’s reading tastes, which (as everyone knows) were amply illustrated when he lingered in a kindergarten classroom reading a story about a pet goat as the attacks of September 11, 2001, unfolded:
“But the goat did some things that made the girl’s dad mad. The goat ate things.”
Okay now everything adds up. The Pet Goat presents “eating things” in a negative light–a striking contrast to The Very Hungry Caterpillar, in which “eating things” is vital and necessary, it has to happen before the climactic metamorphosis can occur.
Gore running mate Joe Lieberman said, on CNN’s “Late Edition”:
“George Bush a while ago was asked what was his favorite book when he was a child. One of the books he cited was ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar.’ Well, it turned out that Governor Bush was in his 20s when that book was published. So what? I’m in my 50s, Wolf, and I still enjoy ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar.’ The point is, let’s get back to the facts.”
If you discovered a book that cleverly inverted one of your favorite storylines, wouldn’t you want to stick around for the ending, see if the author managed to pull it off?
See also the Hartford Courant‘s transcript (scroll down) of a relevant Amazon review.