If you live in New York City and are on the Uptown 4 train somewhere between 8:45 and 9:15 AM, (people as smart as me don't have to show up at work on time), then you've probably seen me. I'm the one reading the book that makes you think "Holy Shit, that Dude is Smart!"I've probably seen you, but when I noticed the latest issue of People sitting open on your lap, I summarily dismissed you as a plebeian (that's right, check the vocab!) Two weeks ago, you probably noticed me reading a volume of short stories by a guy you may have heard about him named ERNEST FUCKING HEMINGWAY. (650 pages)
What you don't know is that as I read it, I was simultaneously translating it to Mandarin Chinese, just so I could laboriously translate it BACK to the original English and appreciate the simple beauty of "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" and "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber" as the author intended it.The other day I saw a guy on the subway reading Proust. Before you start thinking this guy is as smart as me, he was obviously an NYU student, and required reading doesn't count. I, on the other hand, was reading the collected short stories and poetry of Poe (606 pgs. Recognize the skills!) or as those of us who know him well call him, E.A. Then again, I'm only telling you what you already know. I saw you, peering at the title, reaching back into your memory, sifting through Lohan trivia and last night's episode of America's Next Top Model, trying to remember 10th grade English class when you may have read "The Raven", and possibly "The Bells" if you were in Honors. Well, I'm reading Poe for fun. Because when you're as smart as me, rhyming is fun. I write my grocery lists in Iambic Pentameter.You might have also noticed that I read the same way I pee, which is to say, standing up. If any aspect of my disposition conveys a sense of concentration, it's only the effort of maintaining my balance while I am simultaneously submersed in E.A.'s haunting psychology. The text itself is child's play, as was my use of alliteration in the previous sentence.Why short stories, you say? Why not a novel by Dickens? Well, I'll have you know Norman Mailer once called short story writing "the jeweler's art." So there. Fiction, like sex with me, should be appreciated because of its brevity. To establish such complex characters and achieve orgasm in such a short time requires efficiency, clarity, and lubrication. And by lubrication, I mean a comprehensive understanding of the subtleties in the English language.Furthermore, I should mention that I do not limit myself to the American classics. During a recent lunch hour I read the collected short stories of Anton Chekov. (368 pages, but I'm sure he meant to write more.) At the end of the day, I know that the level of my reading material sets me above the average man. Still, modesty compels me to admit that on the train this morning I tried to read James Joyce's "The Dead", and I didn't have a clue as to what the fuck was going on.