At the risk of beating a dead horse, I’ve been thinking further about my reaction to Stonehenge and there’s one thing that I neglected to mention and that is the influence my son in laws and other immigrants have had on me.

I think having grown up in such a white bread neighborhood and really having been dominated by white culture through my formative years, it’s given me both a help and a hindrance in my quest to become an author.

The biggest help it’s given me is the fact that I can write stories that lie within the tastes of mainstream/white culture. Basically I’ve got that white bread foundation to fall back on, and it gives readers a kind of sense of familiarity even while they’re getting a taste of the exotic.

I can’t remember where I heard that a person’s taste in music is formed by the music they grew up with. This leaves its impact on a person’s tastes for the rest of their lives and is probably why the older generation really can’t get into the rhythms of rap and other more experimental forms of music.

Despite the way I dress, I am quite westernized in my taste for story.

And yet, I’m finding that this same westernization is starting to chafe a bit.

It started when I tried to watch Moby Dick.

Well, I should say, I tried to read it first. How many times did I read that first line, “Call me Ishmael…”. I even got up to the point where his interesting bunk mate is introduced. The exotic fellow with all the tattoos and darn it, I just couldn’t get any further.

The ponderous language, the ‘atmosphere’ that just reeked of whale blubber, nope. Just couldn’t make myself forge through it.

And yet I felt, as an author, I should read it! I do try to read all the classics. Even when they’re difficult. Goodness, I got through Macbeth, why couldn’t I get through Moby Dick!

And especially when I heard someone whom I respect say that it was a quintessential classic.

So I decided to cheat a bit and watch the movie. The one with Gregory Peck. I made the mistake of watching it while my daughters and their husbands were over. My Afghan son in law stood in the doorway, leaning up against the wall, and asked me what I was watching.

I told him, “Moby Dick.”

“What’s it about?”

I told him it’s about a guy who gets obsessed with a whale that’s chewed off part of his leg.

He actually started to laugh. “What? He’s going after an animal?”

I told him that he didn’t understand. The whale was symbolic of bigger obsessions, yada, yada, yada.

But he kept laughing. He said, “Doesn’t he understand it’s an ANIMAL?! It didn’t do it on purpose! How can you blame it???”

And by that time I started laughing too.

He ended by saying, “How can you watch that white crap?!”

And yes, I gave up on Moby Dick.

And I started to look at many of the things I was in to, with a more ‘immigrant’ eye.

Maybe if I’d seen Stonehenge before I’d been so influenced by my son in law, I wouldn’t have seen it with such a jaded eye.

When I was talking to one of the ladies in Britain, I think it was my home girl Marjorie, she’d mentioned how she’d been writing these fantastic reviews of all these books coming out about South Asian culture and stuff, and she’d gotten a chance to go to San Francisco I believe and she went into a bookstore hoping to find some of the excellent titles she’d been feasting on, only to discover that the shelves were dominated by series like Gossip Girl and Princess Diaries. Only in an obscure corner did she find one or two of the titles she had so admired.

I’m not surprised.

Bookstores have been catering to the lowest common denominator for quite some time. And there are plenty of parents who are just so darn grateful their kid is reading anything that they don’t care what the books actually contain.

Lots and lots of negative stuff out there.

And even with all that, it seems as though the number of books that kids are reading is still diminishing.

I think publishers need to reach out to bigger markets.

There are demographics that are booming. Asian demographics really come to mind.

We have to get less Eurocentric. Less ‘white’.

The stories coming out of America and Britain are getting a bit…hmmm, predictable.

Can’t recall when last I read an American book that really blew me away! And in terms of British books, haven’t read too many of those that were really mind blowing either.

Oh, yes. Now I’ve got it. It was Monster by Walter Dean Myers.  But that was African American, so not white.

Tried reading Going Bovine. It won the Printz for goodness sakes and although I got much farther than I did with Moby Dick, no way could I finish it.

More and more I seem to be gravitating towards ethnic books.

Maybe because more and more they’re becoming better written–and they’re interesting.

They provide a different experience.

I think all of this was influencing my views when I saw Stonehenge. I liked it, but it was quite ‘white’, if you know what I mean.

I don’t mean to sound racist, or offend anyone, but there it is.