From Krypton to Metropolis

by Thomas Brady

There were precious few of my books that for whatever weird reason survived childhood, teenage, college and early adulthood years, moving with me from city to city and bookshelf to bookshelf. They’re not books with any obvious importance. I just kept them. At some point I kept them just because I had kept them for so long.

I’m so glad I did. One of them is My Book About Me (Amazon affiliate link). Nothing earth-shattering or soul-bearing here, but it’s fun to read this book with my son and try to explain why I thought I was an excellent golfer—though I’ve never, to this day, set foot on a golf course—and thought I wanted to be a movie star.

In that book, I answer the “what’s your favorite book” question with “Superman: From Krypton to Metropolis.”

This is another book that I kept all that time, for no immediately apparent reason. I’m a fan. But it’s not something I read and re-read.

I mentioned this book a good while back on this blog, when I discovered that we live in the future. This was a read-along book. It came with a cassette tape (I’m so old… Not only is there a wikipedia entry for cassette tape, but it sounds like it’s describing something from decades ago… because it is), and you could turn the page as the narrator (and voice actors) read the book to you. This, kids, was pre-Netflix, or Mind-Fi or whatever you’re into these days.

It has been eery and eerier re-reading this book with my son. I have such vivid memories of this book. For the first 6 months or so of reading it together, I simply read the book. My son didn’t yet have the attention span for the actual text—which is somewhat wordy, whether delivered by professionals on tape or yours truly, so I would wing a re-telling of the story for him.

Recently, though, he’s been more and more interested, and we’ve actually read through the book several times now. After a couple times through I started to notice how similar the style of prose was to my own. The wordiness, the profuse parenthetical speech, the ellipses… oh the ellipses. It sounded—and looked—so much like my writing. And then I realized how narcissistic that thought was. The book was written in my style, around the time I was learning to spell. I write similarly to the way that book was written. In fact, that book seems to have been a major influence on my writing style.

I thought this was crazy at first, and then we listened to the recording. I’d been reading this book to my son for months, doing voices and sound effects. When we did finally listen to the audio, I was shocked to hear that I had been mimicking the recording, pretty faithfully. I hadn’t heard this recording in over 20 years, and yet there it was. The voice of the man who runs the Smallville orphanage. Spot-on. The way Superman yells at the end to shatter the iceberg (too late to say “Spoilers!”?). All there.

And then this picture caught my eye:

That’s Lois Lane, obviously. And here’s my wife, with the haircut she had when we met:

Coincidence? Or did this book shape my life in ways I haven’t even discovered, yet? Will I soon turn a friend to an arch enemy by rescuing him from a chemical reaction that might have taken his life, thereby destroying his experiment and his chance at fame as a world renowned scientist and causing him to go bald?

Wait a minute. I’m balding…