Reading the new novel by Travis Hugh Culley titled, “A Comedy & a Tragedy: A Memoir of Learning How to Read and Write” actually hit quite close to home for me as my husband has been diagnosed from early childhood as having both ADD and Dyslexia and often reflects on how hard schooling was for him growing up. He’s told me of the time when a teacher referred to him as “a waste of space” after answering a question in class wrong, and of the taunts from classmates but I never really think I could grasp how hard it must have been for a child struggling in a classroom hell-bent on passing him by until I read Culley’s novel.
The author has described his inspiration for writing his novel about his academic struggles as a storyline for “the prolonged illiteracy of his childhood.” Although he grew up with well-educated parents Culley couldn’t read. Words didn’t make sense or form meaningful sentences to him, as if they were intangible letters floating in space. One would think well-educated parents would jump to the moon and back in order to help their floundering child learn to read but shockingly neither his family nor his teachers seemed to care. This lack of guardian interest forced Culley to rely on his more gifted attributes of acting and comedic charm to create a path forward and he would later attend special schools and make friends but word comprehension remained elusive. Eventually a major self-revolution occurred to make Culley understand that he would need to create his own imaginary rules & world in which he held the power to create his own words and meaning in order to understand and “read” the world around him.
Sadly his recants of being forced onto medication and mental/emotional abuse by teachers and peers sound extremely familiar to those of my husband’s. Just to make it through high school Samuel’s parents felt a prescription of Ritalin, along with private tutoring, was necessary or he would certainly wash out. Although he begrudgingly admits the medication helped zero in his concentration it left him feeling completely drained of all energy and resources, almost like one would describe a crash from a street drug, weight paper thin, and ghostly pale in complexion. He absolutely hated it and has vowed that should our children have a learning “disability” in the future medication will be of absolute last resort. I believe that’s all well and good but what about the dozens of children drowning in our school systems today that cannot afford or have access to private tutoring? I wonder if major lack of understanding Dyslexia by adults and teachers is part of the reason why so many young children are medicated today in relation to learning abilities. Actually, forget understand Dsylexia, there are many, parents and educators alike, that refuse to even acknowledge Dyslexia’s existence which leaves millions of kids in the winds educationally which is absolutely unfair, devastating, and un-American!
After reading Culley’s compelling story of his struggles and triumphs with reading and comprehension I would deem his novel mandatory reading curriculum nationwide for all parents, teachers, and school age students as part of their annual summer reading requirements, it’s that good. Not only does his story shine a brilliant bright light on the gaps in our education system from top to bottom, his personal reliance on self to understand his environment provides excellent proof to troubled learners that they too can prevail and soar in relation to learning. The importance of Culley’s learning experiences should be shared by us all and my family greatly appreciates his candor and so will you. Yes, as our children hedge their paths within the American school system we certainly plan to keep A Comedy & a Tragedy: A Memoir of Learning How to Read and Write on our bookshelves for years to come.
To learn more about author Travis Hugh Culley and find retailers of A Comedy & a Tragedy: A Memoir of Learning How to Read and Write please visit Culley’s official website, and connect with him on Facebook, GoodReads, and Twitter.