Wednesday, October 10, 2012

In Search of Lost Time

I love to read interviews with writers.  One of the standard questions asked concerns what books the writer read as a child.  The answers always fascinate me because for the life of me, I have little to no memory of what I read as a child.  I read all the time.  There were always books in the house.  I had easy access to the public library.  Every time the family went shopping I got to go to a bookstore.  I read during meals.  Even now I still hear stories about how much I read as a child.  But what was it I was reading?  Mystery and science fiction, mostly, I think.  But who or what?  This is both puzzling and embarrassing because I am the kind of person who should have good answers to this sort of question.

There are a few books I vaguely remember and I found one of them at a used bookstore today.

City of Darkness by Ben Bova.  It was published in 1976 and I am fairly certain I read a hardcover library copy. (Why can I recall those details?)  I remembered this story about a teenager visiting New York City during the short time each year when it is open to the public - most of the year it is sealed off from the rest of the country.  When closed, marauding gangs control the place and life is brutal for those trapped inside.  In the book, the kid is visiting on the last day of the season but he gets robbed of his money and ID and is trapped in the city when it closes.  And then he runs around and stuff happens as he tries to get out (I don't recall much more than that). 

I think I read this book before the movie Escape from New York came out in 1981.  Or maybe around the same time.  They are made of similar stuff and I know I enjoyed them both. 

Flash forward 30 years and I am reading the comic DMZ by Brian Wood - which is also kind of similar but perhaps the one I have enjoyed the most.

I bought my new copy for a dollar.  I hope it knocks loose other memories of what I read back then.  Something about a dune buggy.  The one about a kid who gets to be escape Earth and help colonize a new planet, some book where they smoke cigarettes called Merciful Seraphims, the one about the juvenile delinquent who gets caught with a gun because the floor of the smart building he is in can detect a change in his weight.  Real classics, I know.  But they are some of the only fragments I have of what I read when I was young.

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