Elaine!! Elaine!! Elaine!!

I have about 5 pages to go, but this morning, as I was taking the bus to work, I began reading Home School, by Charles Webb.  The title wasn’t what first appealed to me, even though we are home-schooling Susie (Steph is doing the lion’s share of it, of course, since I’m at work during the day).  The reason why I reserved it from the library is that it is the long awaited (at least by me) sequel to The Graduate, which is one of my favorite movies.  (I am such a Graduate fan that I can spot both Mike Farrell and Richard Dreyfuss in it, in their uncredited roles.)

I first read The Graduate when I was about 13… I didn’t see the movie for another year or more.  At a library discard sale, I bought a yellowed Signet paperback of it for about a quarter.  It took me awhile to read it, but when I did, I liked it quite a bit, although the “good parts” were kind of tame, even for a kid like me who was attending a Catholic school at the time.  After that, I jumped at any chance to see the movie when it came on TV or when it played at Cinema 75 on the Marietta College campus (so named because the movies were $.75).  When I lived in Boston, and worked as a typesetter for The Harvard Crimson, it seemed that at least one movie theatre in Harvard Square was showing it every weekend.  I can’t say I went to every viewing, but I did see many of them.

I would have loved the book even if it didn’t introduce familiar characters.  The culture in general is much more receptive to home-schooling than it was when the book takes place (circa 1974–there is a scene where Elaine takes their two sons and one of their friends to see a matinee of The Towering Inferno, which was released that year), but we have encountered many of the questions and some of the problems associated with home-schooling that the Braddocks have.

Charles Webb, the author, has had a rather rough time of it.  He foolishly signed away the rights to the movie, and had no say in the screenplay (although the movie is quite faithful to the book until the action shifts to Berkeley), and has made a poor living from his other books (all I can think of at present is a book called Love, Roger).  His wife has had many mental-health issues, and the two of them were raked over the coals for home-schooling their children–which makes me think this book is semi-autobiographical.  They managed a nudist colony in New Jersey for awhile, moved to England, and had scut jobs during most of that time–department stores, picking up trash, etc.  The advance for Home School came just in time to keep them from being evicted.

Susie presented me with some homework when I got home from work.  She and Steph did geography today, and the two of them devised “Daddy’s Trip Around the World.”  She gave me a list of latitudes and longitudes, and it’s my assignment to fill in just where I am.  I’m glad to see they’re taking a more hands-on approach than just borrowing DVDs of Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? from the library.


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