the big ones

A decade ago I was hanging out with my neighbor while he was cooking. He was also stoned like only a person who’s eaten homemade strawberry shortcake, a package of graham crackers, and half a tub of Cool Whip can be stoned.

Between stirring the alfredo sauce and cramming junk food into his maw, we were talking about books. He had about as maniacal a collection as I did, though his was peppered with more non-fiction. I remember also that there was Powerpuff Girls on TV. His apartment was in the basement so there was little light and precious little ventilation. For this last reason, I may have also been slightly high though I myself hadn’t touched a thing.

Or maybe I was just cramming junk food because I’m of the disposition to cram junk food, irrespective of relative quantities of tetrahydrocannabinol1 in my system.

I commented upon the plethora of non-fiction, intimating that I myself didn’t read much other than fiction and, occasionally, poetry. I said that the only non-fiction book on my shelves was Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time.

My neighbor picked his head up from what he called Fosted-Flakes-in-3-Space2 with that sort-of awed look that only those truly blitzkrieged by marijuana and sugar can affect.

‘Oh man,’ he said. ‘I had a teach in high school who always said that there are three books every single person should read: The Bible, The Brothers Karamazov, and A Brief History of Time.’

The other reason I think I might have been second-hand buzzed was that ever since that moment I’ve wanted to, but refrained from, reading The Brothers Karamozov. It attained mythical status in my mind, as though everything else I’ve read pales because I haven’t read that.

But you gotta be ready to read the big books. So how do you know when you’re ready?

More on that tomorrow.


  1. THC, the main active psychotropic substance in the cannabis plant.
  2. Don’t ask.
  3. I don’t know how he’d feel that someone knew his name from a television show.
  4. The past-tense here is to indicate that he no longer blogs. He himself is still around and I still respect him.
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