English Class and "Jam for Frances"
Our little, rural, Central Virginia High school was blessed in the 1970s (and later) with the teaching of an extraordinary English teacher, Ron Comer. He worked us hard over texts that he clearly loved, and, in addition to turning me into a writer that my UVa professors would love, he taught me some valuable lessons about books and reading. After a tough test, I think it was on "Macbeth," he dimmed the lights, asked us to put our heads down on our desks, and he read aloud "Bread and Jam for Frances" by Russell Hoban. Frances the badger stayed in my heart, and in due course I shared her with my children. The real gift was affirmation of what this young, voracious reader already intuited--reading is indeed a comfort, and should be dosed liberally when needed. Or wanted. It is more than appropriate to read and re-read and read again the books that touch and heal and challenge me. And a great work of art is always a great work of art, no matter its "intended audience."