Friday, October 14, 2011

Discovering Charles Warnke

It is very rare that I find writing that makes me want to rip out the writers genius from his/her head and implant it in mine. When someone can tell a story, so well that every line is a living, breathing thing, it is beautiful to behold. Through Blogsville and Twitter I've discovered some amazing Nigerian writers that can grip words by the throat and wrench meaning from them, for example; Zena, UberBetty, The Toolsman, Miafarradaily, Capoeira Panda, Ms Dania, Koromonay, my anonymous TWP writer aka He Who Has No Name, the writers on The Naked Convos and Decades projects....

This morning I discovered Charles Warnke.

It is a mystery to me that before today I'd never heard of him, I pride myself in knowing everything about everything. This morning, my friend Obi posted a link to a piece called 'Don't Date A Girl Who Reads' and I was literally blown away. 

I have no class this morning, I was going to sleep till midday and bum around the rest of the day, instead I'm sat  at my desk, googling everything there is to know about Charles Warnke because I'll be darned if I display such ignorance a second time. His words literally yank you out of your seat and make you wish you had honed your natural creative writing talent instead of letting it stagnate. 

I can identify with every word of what he writes. I think people who love to read, bibliophiles to the rest of you, are a special breed. I don't mean to be condescending but it is my personal belief that if one is extremely well read you are more intelligent, exposed and aware than the average person on the street. I say this because books are like other worlds, they show you places, cultures, people, you would otherwise never know about. They give you the ability to discuss on a variety of topics, when you read voraciously, you just KNOW. I can't describe it. I don't mean flipping through a magazine or reading the occasional "popular" book. I mean people who smell that new book smell and feel their insides combust from the sheer olfactory pleasure of it. People who crack the spine of a new book and can't wait to be immersed in another place. People who forgo sleep just because they can't put that book down.

Just from interacting with people from all walks of life, you may disagree with me but there's a marked difference between people who love to read and people who just can't be bothered. For one, their vocabulary is better, I'm not saying people who don't like to read have bad grammar but people who love to read have a way with words, they manipulate them, they are infinitely wittier than others. They use metaphors and hyperboles and personification for their own amusement. A conversation with an extremely well read person as opposed to someone who is not is a completely different experience and an infinitely more pleasurable one at that.

Anyway, enough of my yammering above, you need to read this story for yourself:


Date a girl who doesn’t read. Find her in the weary squalor of a Midwestern bar. Find her in the smoke, drunken sweat, and varicolored light of an upscale nightclub. Wherever you find her, find her smiling. Make sure that it lingers when the people that are talking to her look away. Engage her with unsentimental trivialities. Use pick-up lines and laugh inwardly. 
Take her outside when the night overstays its welcome. Ignore the palpable weight of fatigue. Kiss her in the rain under the weak glow of a streetlamp because you’ve seen it in film. Remark at its lack of significance. Take her to your apartment. Dispatch with making love. Fuck her.
Let the anxious contract you’ve unwittingly written evolve slowly and uncomfortably into a relationship. Find shared interests and common ground like sushi, and folk music. Build an impenetrable bastion upon that ground. Make it sacred. Retreat into it every time the air gets stale, or the evenings get long. Talk about nothing of significance. Do little thinking. Let the months pass unnoticed. Ask her to move in. Let her decorate. Get into fights about inconsequential things like how the fucking shower curtain needs to be closed so that it doesn’t fucking collect mold. Let a year pass unnoticed. Begin to notice.
Figure that you should probably get married because you will have wasted a lot of time otherwise. Take her to dinner on the forty-fifth floor at a restaurant far beyond your means. Make sure there is a beautiful view of the city. Sheepishly ask a waiter to bring her a glass of champagne with a modest ring in it. When she notices, propose to her with all of the enthusiasm and sincerity you can muster. Do not be overly concerned if you feel your heart leap through a pane of sheet glass. For that matter, do not be overly concerned if you cannot feel it at all. If there is applause, let it stagnate. If she cries, smile as if you’ve never been happier. If she doesn’t, smile all the same.
Let the years pass unnoticed. Get a career, not a job. Buy a house. Have two striking children. Try to raise them well. Fail, frequently. Lapse into a bored indifference. Lapse into an indifferent sadness. Have a mid-life crisis. Grow old. Wonder at your lack of achievement. Feel sometimes contented, but mostly vacant and ethereal. Feel, during walks, as if you might never return, or as if you might blow away on the wind. Contract a terminal illness. Die, but only after you observe that the girl who didn’t read never made your heart oscillate with any significant passion, that no one will write the story of your lives, and that she will die, too, with only a mild and tempered regret that nothing ever came of her capacity to love.
Do those things, because nothing sucks worse than a girl who reads. Do it, I say, because a life in purgatory is better than a life in hell. Do it, because a girl who reads possesses a vocabulary that can describe that amorphous discontent as a life unfulfilled—a vocabulary that parses the innate beauty of the world and makes it an accessible necessity instead of an alien wonder. A girl who reads lays claim to a vocabulary that distinguishes between the specious and soulless rhetoric of someone who cannot love her, and the inarticulate desperation of someone who loves her too much. A vocabulary, god damnit, that makes my vacuous sophistry a cheap trick.
Do it, because a girl who reads understands syntax. Literature has taught her that moments of tenderness come in sporadic but knowable intervals. A girl who reads knows that life is not planar; she knows, and rightly demands, that the ebb comes along with the flow of disappointment. A girl who has read up on her syntax senses the irregular pauses—the hesitation of breath—endemic to a lie. A girl who reads perceives the difference between a parenthetical moment of anger and the entrenched habits of someone whose bitter cynicism will run on, run on well past any point of reason, or purpose, run on far after she has packed a suitcase and said a reluctant goodbye and she has decided that I am an ellipsis and not a period and run on and run on. Syntax that knows the rhythm and cadence of a life well lived.
Date a girl who doesn’t read because the girl who reads knows the importance of plot. She can trace out the demarcations of a prologue and the sharp ridges of a climax. She feels them in her skin. The girl who reads will be patient with an intermission and expedite a denouement. But of all things, the girl who reads knows most the ineluctable significance of an end. She is comfortable with them. She has bid farewell to a thousand heroes with only a twinge of sadness.
Don’t date a girl who reads because girls who read are the storytellers. You with the Joyce, you with the Nabokov, you with the Woolf. You there in the library, on the platform of the metro, you in the corner of the cafĂ©, you in the window of your room. You, who make my life so god damned difficult. The girl who reads has spun out the account of her life and it is bursting with meaning. She insists that her narratives are rich, her supporting cast colorful, and her typeface bold. You, the girl who reads, make me want to be everything that I am not. But I am weak and I will fail you, because you have dreamed, properly, of someone who is better than I am. You will not accept the life that I told of at the beginning of this piece. You will accept nothing less than passion, and perfection, and a life worthy of being storied. So out with you, girl who reads. Take the next southbound train and take your Hemingway with you. I hate you. I really, really, really hate you.


  1. The title of the poem sounded familiar until I started to read and it definitely wasn't what I thought.

    I read 'Date a girl who reads' a couple of months ago and loved it! I wonder which came first. Here's a link for you:

  2. well written. A girl who reads knows her worth.

  3. amazing! it just described me totally.

  4. Hmm... interesting read. Also read the one from the link @cuo put up.
    It's ironic though, that a lot of people (yes, girls too) might not read this. Some may complain it's too long or that the writer used "too much grammar". Sad.

    Thanks for the mention :)

  5. His' came first. Her's was a reply to him. The link to his article is located at the top of her article.

  6. Interesting post! I find this amusing because, I had a debate with a friend of mine about how people who read books and such, possess uniqueness compared to people who do not. glad to have read this

  7. wow! Very interesting piece. You shld date the girl who reads.

  8. Mr. Warnke's vocabulary & imagery is exceptional.

    @Daks, your preamble was well thought out too.

  9. True story, for me it highlights d crisis d world's experiencing with so much dumbing down dat makes d Kadashian sisters luk like prospective Nobel laureates... Some research I saw recently claimed dat we women like it dat way, dat we prefer gossip n oda tabloid gists n consider dat to be enuf reading n current affairs, and dat consequently guys expect just dat much frm us... On d flip side though, guys taking d easy route as described by Charles, is never a shocker... I just feel better wen de get to d point when they realise how far in they've dug themselves...!

    Its a shame dat we undermine knowledge...may God not vex n give animals brains n leave us absolutely clueless! Nice read.....

  10. On a lighter note, *laffing @ myself aleady*... I followed Cuo's link to 'Date a girl who reads'... I absolutely understand her arguement save for d opening bit dat tries to dull my fashion cruise...abeg abeg abeg I understand two languages, as: spoken by mouth n shown by d body...just saying dat buying clothes never killed anyone..she shld leave dose of us who like our clothes as much as we do our books...*just saying* ciao!

  11. "She insists that her narratives are rich, her supporting cast colorful, and her typeface bold."...

    Dude is awesome..

    Noticed the font for TWP at the top of the site's change.. Looks good. xx

  12. gosh I love this! I love Charles Warnke.

    His rabid generalizations aside, most of his words hold water. A girl/guy who reads is priced above the most expensive rubies.

  13. Quite an Interesting read and a good analysis from you, will love to reblog Charles Warnke's piece. I will like for some people I know to read it-that is if they ever will *wink

  14. I loooovvveee Chrles Warnke!!! The 1st thing I did after reading was search for him on twitter! I won't lie, I need to get a dictionary and then go back to read again. I couldn't stop reading... one would have thought the words would run away... *deep sigh*

  15. LOVE IT!!!
    its nice to see people who feel the same way! I don't know how many times I've gone to work in the morning knocking off espresso shots because I stayed up all night and morning reading. And my colleagues think I'm either hung over or had a +1 evening.

  16. OMG I read this awhile back and was laughing at the little analogies!!! And the Woolf references, alongside the others? I felt like, you know, just 'cos I knew these writers, I was automatically date worthy.

    But that's just my brain lol. And I totally, tottaaaallly, agree with you on the idea that voracious reading gives you inherent knowledge. You should hear me speak about Italy. LOL.

    Lovely blog!

  17. Thanks for the post. Enjoyed his other articles as well.

  18. Perfect imagery! OMG. I don't know if I'm the only one that cried while reading the piece.


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