|Japanese people know more about Anne than I do. "Akage No Anne" (Red-Haired Anne) is way popular there.|
I am the least well-read, supposedly-literary person I know. I love books and I hate them. I love them when I've found one that engrosses me so deeply that I resent the real world when it intrudes ("get your own damn dinner"). I hate them because they make me feel guilty that I haven't read enough.
With the exception of Jane Austen's entire oeuvre, I've completely given up on adult classics that I should have (but haven't) read. Those books are frankly never going to happen in my life, because I only read middle-grade and young-adult books now. So if you want to talk to me about Anna Karenina, it had better be the BBC (2000) version, and if you want to chat about Catch-22 I'd be happy to tell you how much I liked Alan Arkin's performance as Captain Yossarian. Everything I know about Heart of Darkness I learned from Apocalypse Now. Rufus Sewell is Will Ladislaw for me (this is not a bad thing, on second thought).
But even though I read MG and YA exclusively, there are so many books I've missed—and I am such a slow reader—that I will probably never catch up on many important classics. And this leads to my shame as a children's writer; nay, as a human being. What other woman my age has never read a single Nancy Drew mystery, Little House on the Prairie, or Little Women? What is wrong with me?
The book I want to confess about today is Anne of Green Gables. I haven't read it and I'm sure I never will. My editor will be disappointed to hear this, since she recently made a pilgrimage to Green Gables Heritage Place on Prince Edward Island. My impediment is professional, however: I have a sneaking suspicion that the book is dated, which means it's of limited value to my own work and can't earn a precious slot on my night table or Kindle. At this stage in my life I only have time to read books that will inform my writing. And "this stage in my life," which is the cram-thirty-hours-of-activity-into-twenty-four-hours-every-day stage, is more of a personality trait than a life-cycle thing, so I suspect it will last until I die.
What do I know about Anne, without having read her? Precious little, and maybe exactly enough. She was an orphan. The couple who adopted her thought they were buying—excuse me, "adopting"—a boy to help with farm chores, but Anne was sent to them by accident. Anne endeared herself to them and got to stay. All sorts of old-fashioned, one-room-schoolhouse hijinks ensued. She acquired a bunch of friends, and suffered no signs of stress disorders from being an orphan. I suspect there's no real story arc or plot, other than a series of little happenings (schoolwork, chores, maybe a party or fair) and wholesome personal misunderstandings that get resolved through Anne's strong, bright personality.
How did I do? Aw never mind, don't tell me. I don't want to feel like I have to read the book.