Spoilers and stars

Abby had a mandatory book to read over the summer before starting Grade 8. There was also a list of optional second books. We ignored them all and decided Abby should read Of Mice and Men because a) it’s a classic and b) it’s short.

But first I re-read it myself so I’d be able to discuss it with Abby. I borrowed a truly handsome copy from the library that I set about reading and spilling coffee on. I then passed it on to Abby to read and hopefully take the blame for the stains.

Short or not, Steinbeck is another world these days, and for a reluctant reader he can still be tricky. So I waited patiently for Abby to reach the ending so we could review it, but did not hesitate to point out that the character of Lennie is the basis for the Abominable Snowman character in Loony Tunes.

Finally, I asked Abby, “Did you finish your book?”

“Yes,” she said.

“So do you understand? What happened? What George had to do?”

“I think so.”

“You know he killed Lennie, right? Like the dog earlier in the book? A mercy killing. To save him from the horrors of the mob. Killing him kindly, with the visions of the rabbit farm the last happy thought he has. Because George loves Lennie.”


The human condition. Wisdom imparted. Mission accomplished.

Later on, her mother asked the same question: “Abby, did you finish your book?”

“I have one chapter left.”

But! But! Why did you…? You said…! I just spoiled the ending. I just ruined Of Mice and Men.

Teaching young people to read is important. Teaching them to listen to the question: ditto.

Speaking of listening, I’m back on CBC Radio’s “Breakaway” every two weeks. Here’s my latest audio column for you star-gazers.

About rossmurray1

I'm Canadian so I pronounce it "Aboot." No, I don't! I don't know any Canadian who says "aboot." Damnable lies! But I do know this Canadian is all about humour (with a U) and satire. Come by. I don't bite, or as we Canadians say, "beet."
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18 Responses to Spoilers and stars

  1. byebyebeer says:

    Get OUT. The abominable snowman bit is one of my favorites and I had no idea it was tied to Mice and Men. Of course, I never read Mice and Men, so you spoiled the ending for me too, but fortunately I have terrible reading comprehension and/or short term memory, so I’m fine unless I go back and re-read this post, which hopefully I’ll remember not to do just this once. And to be fair, you did put the word ‘spoilers’ right in the title so no hard feelings. My kids do that all the time, btw, tailoring answers to please the asker.

    • rossmurray1 says:

      I nearly inserted “spoiler alert” but then, like you said, “spoiler” in the title, foreshadowing, all that jazz. But you know what? I had read it years before and had forgotten the ending so here’s to memory loss.

      Re Lennie Tunes: Lon Chaney Jr.’s portrayal specifically, legend has it.

  2. Paul says:

    Great post Ross, Thanks.

  3. Very funny. Hope you have a great Grade 8 revisited. (My son just started grade 7; I pored over his science notes muttering, “This is so cool,” and he looked at me like I’m insane.) School is way more fun thirty years later.

    • rossmurray1 says:

      It’s fun all right and not always for educational reasons. Abby last year explained that the Tigris and Euphrates were important because the people made their houses out of silt.

  4. pinklightsabre says:

    Epic audio clip, particularly about Marvel and DC colliding into each other a half an hour later, again. From my favorite Steinbeck, these quotes: https://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/2359336-the-winter-of-our-discontent

  5. I recently saw James Franco and Chris O’Dowd in a Broadway production of Of Mice and Men and there was no ambiguity about what happened in the end. Franco shot him right in the head. Pow! They taped one of the performances and will air it on a PBS station. Keep your eyes out. It’s worth catching and MUCH easier than reading it.

    • rossmurray1 says:

      I’d like to watch the Burgess Meredith/Lon Chaney version sometime.
      Speaking of acting, I have carpet burn on my hands after rehearsal last night. That means I’m doing it right, right?

      • That depends. Are you playing a carpet installation tech? If so, well done. You’re on the path to finding your character.

        I saw a Bway show last night. A comedy/drama about actors by Donald Margulies who’s kind of a big deal. Nobody makes fun of actors better than a playwright. The family matriarch, an insufferable actor who is prattles on endless about her craft was played by Blythe Danner. Something tells me she wasn’t acting all that much.

        • rossmurray1 says:

          HI, Gwyneth’s mom!
          How do you feel about film/television actors on stage. Do you keep thinking, “Oh, look, it’s Will’s mom from ‘Will & Grace…’ Or does it just fade out?

          • Danner would turn a certain way and look EXACTLY like her daughter. Or…other way around, I suppose.

            It’s funny you should mention celebrity casting. They address it in last night’s play. They said there are no more Broadway stars. There are only stars on Broadway. I don’t mind one bit. I’m still superficial enough to enjoy seeing a celebrity on stage. Coming up this season I’m seeing Helen Mirren play Queen Elizabeth II, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Cynthia Nixon and Ewan McGregor in Tom Stoppard’s The Real Thing, sit-com refugee Josh Radnor and, speaking of Will and Grace, a revival of It’s Only a Play with Megan Mullally, F. Murray Abraham, Matthew Broderick, Stockard Channing, Rupert Grint and Nathan Lane. Previews are about to begin for The Elephant Man with Bradley Cooper, which is a fucking joke because he’s the most handsome man on the plant. Talk about playing against type!

            Call me a celebrity whore. It doesn’t bother me. It doesn’t! I like plays.

  6. pieterk515 says:

    Dude also require a book report every now and then, and let’s just say reading is not his thing. Unlike Playstation 3 and Girls.

    So he just finished another Diary of A Wimpy kid. And I’m left wondering…Does it count? Is it considered reading when half the book is made up of pictures?

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