Essay On The Power Of Books In “Superman And Me”
In “Superman and Me”, Native American writer Sherman Alexie describes his early development as a reader, and how a comic book played an influential role helping in turning him into a writer. Alexie grew up on an Indian reservation. Although his parents struggled to find suitable employment, his father was an avid reader, who encouraged him to love books. His father loved all kinds of books, and Alexie grew up in a bibliophile environment. Although he does not remember much about that first Superman comic book, he does remember a specific moment when reading and writing started to make sense for him. It was an epiphany that changed his perspective on the world. He realized the function and importance of a paragraph, which he thought was a like “a fence that held words.” The words inside the fence worked together to make a specific point and this realization “delighted” Alexie, and changed the way he saw the world. His house was a like a paragraph, and so were all the different towns around him. He conceptualized it further, each member of his family was a paragraph, and together they made up an essay.
The Superman comic sparked Alexie’s interest in reading, and he was reading The Grapes of Wrath in kindergarten. Alexie said this was a problem, because a “smart Indian a dangerous person, widely feared and ridiculed by Indians and non-Indians alike.” He was expected to be docile and fail, but Alexie was precocious and used his intelligence and writing ability to overcome adversity and become a writer. He refused to give up, and was intellectually curious. He believes that books saved his life, and allowed him to live a better life on his own terms. He does not remember any Indian role models, who were teachers, writers or poets. He tries to give back to his Indian community by visiting school and stressing the importance of reading and writing, and most important of all, the strength of books to change their lives.
Alexie’s narrative is short and powerful. A combination of intelligence, nurturing family environment and courage allowed him to overcome a difficult childhood. His construct of paragraphs as fences is is an excellent way to explain and understand how paragraphs work, essays are formed, and ideas can be organized. It is obvious that writers like Alexie are verbal people, who see the world through the mechanics of writing. A mathematician might see the world differently, though geometric shapes or variables and relationships. Obviously, Alexie was a prodigy, and seems a little embarrassed about it, but his story is a good example of how becoming an effective reader and writer has an environmental factor. His father was a bibliophile and he grew up in a house of books, which sparked an interest in words and ideas. The Superman comic book was Alexie’s introduction to the world of words and ideas. His story is a testament to how important it is for young people to be exposed to books and the power of reading, even if it is just a humble comic book.
Alexie, Sherman. "Superman and Me." Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 19 Apr. 1998. Web. 22 Feb. 2015. <http://articles.latimes.com/1998/apr/19/books/bk- 42979>.