Frank and His Friend: Re-reading the classics
What is it that makes a book good enough to return to again and again?
Getting a hold of the latest bestseller and losing yourself in a new world is fun, but some books are so good you want to return to them year after year. What is it about the classics that keep us coming back for more?
Some books give up all their secrets on the first reading and, upon closing the book, there’s no reason to open it again because you know everything about the story. For me this is always true of a Whodunit. I love a good mystery and will tear through a detective story without stopping until I know who did it. Then years later, with no recollection of the plot, I’ll pick it up again figuring I’ve forgotten all the key points and can be surprised anew. Wrong. I get about halfway through it when I remember. (It was the doctor, pretending to be the dead man’s brother, of course.)
But there’s more to a good classic than just the plot, and it often takes several re-readings to pick up subtle expressions of character or foreshadowing of events. In this way, a good classic is evergreen, with new moments to discover every time you read it.
If a book is going to stand the test of time to new audiences even after hundreds of years, there must be something universal about the story that continues to be true for each generation. This is certainly true for Frank and His Friend, with its childhood tales of struggles against Mom’s vegetable warpath, search for exciting adventures and, of course, friendship. When a story can capture something about the human condition that we can all relate to, it’s pretty likely that it will draw us back and still hit home after repeated reads.
Of course, it’s often that element of ‘home’ that makes us re-read a well-loved classic. There’s something comforting in re-reading an old favorite when you know where everything is and you’re just glad to be back with people you feel that you know so well. There are some books so well written that you miss the characters when you’re finished, and re-reading them makes you feel glad to be reunited again.
And for me, of course, this is Frank and His Friend. You open the books again to find your friends there waiting for you, as if not a minute has gone by. That itself is the best surprise.