by Michael Dymmoch
To get people hooked I often give away free samples. And like giant pharma, I try to advertise my wares. I push other people’s stuff, too—things I find particularly addictive. I don’t draw the line at kids.
In fact, I like to get them hooked early. With Goodnight Moon, and Pat the Bunny and Mother Goose for toddlers, then Dr. Seuss and Maurice Sendak. For the older kiddies The Little Prince and Harry Potter and The Alchemist.
Teens are suckers for Catch-22, Catcher in the Rye and Rumblefish. And His Dark Materials, for the better readers. Kurt Vonnegut is particularly habit forming.
The paper drugs for grown-ups are too numerous to mention—from Andreae to Zimmerman, a drug for every taste--Conroy and Connolly and Child. Some of the old stuff is still pretty potent—like old wine—Chandler, Macdonald, and especially, Mark Twain.
It’s not just stories I’m selling. Some writers ideas are incredibly addictive—Darwin and Malcolm X, “The Machine Stops,” 1984, “Rashomon”...
I gotta say I learned my trade from the best. My mother was a pusher, a grade school librarian. She knew how to approach each kid to get him hooked—on books. She got it from her mother, who told marvelous stories right out of her head.
One of my heroes was Andrew Taft, who carried a concealed copy of the Bill of Rights and didn’t care who knew it. And Norman Senski, who said, “If you can’t say it in other words, you don’t know what you’re talking about.” And Yohma Gray, who taught me fuzzy writing is indicative of fuzzy thought.
I don’t think I’m an anomaly. I think there’re lots of us around. Because if you’re hooked, you’re probably a pusher.