I recently discovered that two of my coworkers are carrying on an office affair. Now, normally, this sort of thing would be none of my beeswax, but I have reason to suspect that they're actually doing some of their "carrying on" on other employees' desks! I often show up in the morning to find papers disheveled, and one time, I found part of what I'll tactfully call a "suspicious-looking wrapper" on my mousepad. What should I do?
—Upset In Upper Darby
What is Tom Sawyer about, you ask? Well, basically, the book Tom Sawyer is about the olden days, back in the days of Huckleberry Finn. Back then, many people were so poor, they had no shoes and often wore only overalls with no shirt. The main character, whose name is Tom Sawyer, was so poor he had to paint something to earn money. Which is tough work, as I know, because I once had to paint a garage, and it took a long time. It's too bad times were so tough when the Sawyers were around, but it's important to keep in mind that this was the olden days. I would say things have certainly changed since the book took place, what with TV and movies and all. Things were simpler back then, for sure, but people like the ones in the book Tom Sawyer were pretty happy living the way they did. What's that? How would I respond to charges that Tom Sawyer is racist? Well, in the book Tom Sawyer, there is some of that, but we need to keep in mind as readers of today that that kind of thing is unacceptable. At the same time, though, that's how things were back then, so the book is also like a history book, if you think about it that way.
My son was recently diagnosed with Faloni's Syndrome. Our family knew nothing about this disease when he contracted it, and only now are we learning how easy prevention is. Would you please let your readers know that a simple blood test can determine the presence of FS in a person's blood, and that anyone with a family history of Faloni's should get checked?
—Concerned In Canoga Park
Animal Farm, by George Orwell, is a Signet Classic in which animals take over the farm. In the book, animals are used to represent communists and people represent Democrats. I would say that using animals to represent communists was a pretty good idea, because, historically, communists tried to do a lot of animalistic things, like aim nuclear bombs at America, and that is like something an animal on a farm might do. Portraying communists as animals who try to run things instead of humans is a good way to make a point. The best scene in the book was probably when some of the various animals on the farm set out to create a paradise of progress, ideals, and equality. Anyone who knows history knows how that really turned out. Not only George Orwell, the author, deserves credit, but Russell Baker for his excellent introduction. Edmund Wilson from The New Yorker sure knew what he was talking about when he said the book was "Absolutely first-rate… on par with Voltaire and Swift." All in all, George Orwell did a great job, and Animal Farm is a Signet Classic in every sense of the word, and well worth the $5.99 purchase price. It's so good, in fact, that if I was in Canada, I would be happy to pay the higher price of $7.99. If you liked "Voltaire and Swift," then you will love Animal Farm.
My aging mother has grown somewhat eccentric since Dad died three years ago. Among her more extreme habits, she's begun crocheting obsessively, up to 10 hours a day. She's also stopped speaking to several of her oldest, dearest friends, calling them "silly." I know she's dealing with a devastating loss, but I just don't like to see her turn inward like this. What can I do?
—Heartsick In Hampton
Dune, by David Lynch, is the book I've chosen to read for my book assignment. Dune, which contains many hundreds of pages, is a really freaky book about the future. This one particular guy had to put his hand in a box, and he trips like it's burning up. Then, he had to learn fighting from a guy who reminded me quite a bit of Captain Picard. This fat guy with insane acne is trying to take everything over, somewhat like Darth Vader. But unlike Darth Vader, he got kind of gay on this other guy in a chapter of the book that was not my particular favorite. There's also a talking slug in a tank that you have to see to believe. The spaceships had cool design and the girl was pretty cute. You should read Dune or, even better, Starship Troopers.
Randy Friel is a high-school student whose syndicated advice column, Ask A High-School Student Who Didn't Do The Required Reading, appears in more than 250 newspapers nationwide.