I got my love of reading from my parents. My mom still reads the entire newspaper every day—her systematic approach to it has always fascinated me. Our house was loaded with books and magazines: fiction, references, encyclopedias, and Time-Life series. We even had large bookshelves in the garage to catch the overflow. That was where my dad kept his collection of Edgar Rice Burroughs paperbacks.
Those books were special. My dad told me all about his interpretations of Burroughs’ style and themes. When my parents were downsizing, I asked for the Burroughs books, which I think both surprised and delighted my father.
The funny thing was that until recently, I never read them. In retrospect, I think I didn’t want to taint my dad’s stories about them with reality. I’ve finally dared to start into the Mars series. Now I wish I’d done this sooner so I could talk to my dad about them.
I wonder what Dad would think of my writing. I suspect he’d manage to throw me a curve of a brilliant idea that I’d never even considered. He’d probably also come up with something that would make me roll my eyes real hard. And then later I would realize he has a point, even if I didn’t entirely agree. That was one of the most infuriating things about him. You were NEVER going to win an argument with him, it just wasn’t possible.
The Hertzberg Collection and Museum in San Antonio—where the above photo was taken—has an original signed copy of A. A. Milne’s When We Were Very Young, another author that I associate with my dad. He said once that the trick to reading the Winnie the Pooh stories out loud is to do the characters’ voices. And like always, he was right about that, too.