Look. I respect taste is personal and opinion is subjective, but there’s a point when both shade off into an error of fact. If you don’t adore the work of Charles Dickens, you’re wrong. You’re actually admitting more about yourself than anything relevant to Chuck’s ability as a writer. Who am I to decide this for you? I’m the enduring weight of history, smiling down on those choosing to be on the wrong side of me. I’m not advocating herd mentality; millions of people are reading Fifty Shades of Grey (which has inexplicably usurped Harry Potter as the fastest-selling book series), and, by no accident, millions of people are dumb.
Only when a culture ends can its value be appraised. Its descendants cull through the trends, preserving only what is truly worth keeping. (Everything else gets stabbed in the neck with its fifteenth minute of fame.) Dickens has survived a sesquicentennial of passing eras, been translated into almost every known language (Aramaic notwithstanding) and even surpassed the Bible in sales—as the latter is often printed and distributed for free. A century from now, nobody’s going to remember Stephenie Meyer, but A Tale of Two Cities will continue to be the gold standard for literature. Even if mankind is no longer ingesting food through an orifice in his skull, he will still be touched when Oliver Twist asks for more.
If this reads as though I’m writing an essay about the man… well, I like to do that. After all, my love of him began in college—when I originally had the hots for my Victorian literature professor. Wanting to seem impressive, I devoured the curriculum as hungrily as I could, and from this simple student-teacher crush emerged my true passion. Dickens was the voice of the gutter before there was such a thing. His gentle understanding of women, the poor and how much it sucks ass to not be white, wealthy and male (something that is still true today), seduced my then-liberal ideologies. Unlike my then-liberal ideologies, however, my obsession with this timeless work hasn’t waned over the years.
And, no, I didn’t sleep with my professor. That professor.
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 cup flour
- 1 cup almond meal
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup Reese’s Pieces
Russell’s daughter, Hannah, wanted to make chocolate cookies with me, so of course I added an element of peanut butter. The result was still appreciated.
Preheat oven to 350˚. Cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition. Mix in vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine remaining ingredients, except Reese’s Pieces. Slowly add dry mixture to butter mixture and stir until just incorporated. Fold in Reese’s Pieces. Spray cookie sheet with nonstick spray, or line with parchment paper. Drop dough by spoonfuls onto cookie sheet and bake for 8 minutes.
Small confession: I initially despised A Tale of Two Cities in high school. Like most sophomores, I thought it read like the longwinded gay-speak of the wig-wearing dead. But, like any drug worth getting addicted to, it takes a few tries before your body starts to understand the point. If Dickens left a bad taste in your mouth during your scholastic years, give him a second, adult chance. After that, if you still can’t muster an appreciation for such inarguable greatness, I’ll never let you read another one of my posts again.
TWTG says, “Mmm, stolen gum tastes so much better.”