Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Early Literary Influences -- Bambi

Today I'm posting the first of what I hope to make a series here at Greetings From the Trailer Park: Early Literary Influences, the Books That Shaped My Life.

Today's literary influence is Bambi. Yes, you heard me....Bambi! You remember the little spotted deer, friends with Thumper and Flower, don't you? I know, a M/M romance writer and a children's book don't seem to belong in the same sentence, and yet here we are. Of all the books I've ever read, only scriptures have had a bigger impact on my life. How does a children's book of only a few pages influence a person's life? Well, I'll tell you.

I must have been three of four years old when my mom bought Bambi for my brother, sister, and me. Along with the book came an album (remember vinyl albums?). Before I could read I listened to the album, turning the book's pages when a tone sounded. I spent countless hours with Bambi and friends and, hearing what I thought were their voices (very active imagination!), I came to view them as human.

Through Bambi I learned that it wasn't Flower's fault that he smelled bad, he was still a nice skunk. And Thumper was annoying sometimes, but who doesn't get that way from time to time? See where this is going? Through this simple little story I learned empathy, to see the world from another's point of view, and that your friends don't have to look or act like you do. And all before I could ride a bike.

I cried when Bambi's mother died, and my heart raced when he ran from the fire, no matter how many times I heard the story. Point number two. I learned early on what made a good story. It pulls the reader in, makes them feel they are there, and makes them truly care what happens to the characters.

Sadly, for my mom, the story also taught me a lesson that has lasted forty-six years, and shaped who I am today. Because I became sympathetic to these fictional characters, I decided at the age of three or four that animals were friends, not food, and every single meal for the next fourteen or fifteen years became an ordeal for my family, for my mom believed I needed to eat meat to be healthy. Once I was out on my own, that ended. I've been vegetarian for about thirty-two years now, due in large part by to a simple children's book.

I also learned to champion those who had no voice of their own, learned to respect others, and the value of protecting rights, be they for humans or our furry friends.

Never underestimate the power of words.

4 comments:

  1. Yeah, I was quite surprised when I realized that a lot of the beliefs I maintain today started at so early an age.

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  2. I think I read Felix Salton's Bambi for the first time when I was in the third grade or so. About fifteen years ago, I bought a copy and put it on a bookshelf I dubbed my "literary hope chest" along with a lot of my other childhood favorites to share with my child someday. Note to self: revisit the idea of reading Bambi to son now that he's a little older than the last time I tried.

    I think probably the most enduring literary lesson Bambi taught me was not to have faith in a pat HEA ending. As a die hard romantic, of course, it took me a long time to grasp that the book wasn't about Bambi and Feline walking off into the sunset together, and in that regard it broke my heart a bit. But being older and wiser now, I really kinda love that about it.

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  3. Wow! Another good lesson I hadn't realized in that story. I wasn't interested in the romance much at that point, but loved the friendships and the "life goes on" aspect.

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