For those who need a recap: Boy meets adoring, obliging apple tree and eventually, through a combination of utter impotence and blatant manipulation, makes off with her branches, her trunk and, of course, the literal fruits of her labor. (I’m not even going to get into the biblical implications of Silverstein’s decision to make the tree of the book’s title apple-bearing.) “And the tree was happy,” reads the last line of the 52-page story, a sentiment repeated by Silverstein so many times that it sends some, like me, into paroxysms of reflexive indignation.
Of course, maybe we’re just projecting, but to those who would say that Silverstein’s book is a moving, sentimental depiction of the unyielding love of a parent for a child, I’d say, Learn better parenting skills. To those who defend it as a warts-and-all parable lamenting man’s inhumanity to man — or, perhaps, man’s inhumanity to woman — I’d say that I’m not so sure Silverstein, who dedicated the book to a former girlfriend, “Nicky,” was writing an indictment of what men assume they can get way with. The boy uses the tree as a plaything, lives off her like a parasite, and then, when she’s a shell of her former self and no longer serves any real purpose, he sits on her — which makes her happy? (“That book is the epitome of male privilege,” a friend groused.)”
Go to other countries. Not a typical backpacking tour. Planned tour
means you will hang with Americans on bikes and flirt with drunk
Germans and someone will steal your Levi’s in the hostel and a guy
from Poland will sock you in the face while bad techno plays
everywhere and you will learn nothing except that your face hurts and
not everyone showers. Get into other cultures and talk politics and
love. Meeting other people is the only way to know if you believe what
you believe cause it’s been handed to you, or if it really rings true
in your heart.
Getting lost should be seen as a sweet chance to be found.
Remember, you belong everywhere.”