From "Night" to Daylight



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In their attempts to stimulate and encourage their students to hone their reading skills and develop an appreciation for all the nuances of the written word, high school and college English teachers are always looking for that magical manuscript whose tantalizing plot, setting, and characterization will entice and excite their young pupils to plunge into that magical world where processed, bound plant/wood fiber is lovingly held in the palms of one’s hands, where eyes travel in left to right continuous horizontal and vertical and page-to-page tracks, and where imagination, inseminated with myriad phantasmagorias, concocts the unimaginable and wanders into unchartered worlds to transpose the reader into a world where the mind is distended in an explosion of vivid images akin to a roving kaleidoscopic excursion.

And much like alchemists, English teachers are always searching for that perfect elixir, that manuscript whose letters, words, sentences, paragraphs, and pages clench the reader in a spellbinding and captivating vise.

Some of the fictional works whose spellbinding magic has lingered from my yesteryears’ teaching days include The Old Man and the Sea, To Kill A Mockingbird, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Clockwork Orange, The Color Purple, Rabbit Run, The Stranger, Spring Snow, and Native Son. Some teachers opted for Valley of the Dolls, Goodbye Columbus, and Love Story, three popular books of the 60’s and 70’s. These were pure fluff, and Jonathan Livingston Seagull and The Graduate, more fluff than stuff, had their devotees. I must confess that one semester I succumbed to including Jonathan Seagull on my students’ reading list. Some favorites included Catch-22, A Man for All Seasons, The Man Who Killed the Deer and Slaughterhouse-Five, and three favorite non-fictional works included The Hidden Persuaders, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee and Silent Spring. As for autobiographical works The Bell Jar, Big Doc’s Girl, Moveable Feast, Soul on Ice, and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings are six perennially refreshing works.

And then came Elie Wiesel’s Night.

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