Reading Comprehension

For the past two weeks, I've been teaching Jamaica Kincaid's book "A Small Place" in two public high schools in New Orleans. It is a tricky piece of literature, because the book is very indirect in the way in which it deals with English colonialism and the history of Antigua. Kincaid is sarcastic, passive-agressive, and seems to disrespect everyone on all sides of the issue. So we're stopping a lot to dissect her language and what it means. Next up is Plato, which, I keep telling the students, will be a challenge for me as well as for them.

The students are doing pretty well sussing out what Kincaid really feels about things. I wish the same could be said for some of the readers of my recent Salon piece, who continue to argue over all the things that weren't said or suggested in the piece. They've been doing quite a bit of projecting their own issues, if they read it at all. For example, I recently heard from someone who was upset about my attitude toward Section 8 housing. I pointed out that the essay very directly criticizes absentee landlords who take advantage of Section 8. But he wouldn't hear any of it, because then he'd have nothing to argue.


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