Saturday, October 1, 2011
Banned, Fall, Savage, ETC
It's been some time since I've done one of these things now...busy, work, things, moving, what have you. And some big things have been happening in the book world, I'm happy to say. September, surprisingly short, I always think, contained "Banned Books Week" (http://www.bannedbooksweek.org/), saw Jonathan Safron Foer reveal his newest novel, Tree of Codes (Visual Editions, 285 pages, $32.00), to be a brilliant, play-giaristic take on Bruno Schulz's novel Street of Crocodiles (SEE COOL STORY AT: http://www.jewishliteraryreview.com/2010/11/jonathan-safran-foers-tree-of-codes/), and publications by Jim Harrison, Paolo Coelho, and -- shockingly -- a thriller by far-right radio host Michael Savage whose books are usually titled something like "Liberalism is for Retards," hitting the shelves. (For more on the Savage thing, check out this really strange interview where Savage calls his book The Great American Novel.)
As for "Banned Books Week," I think it was Salman Rushdie who said something like, "No one values the power of the written word than a police state." And it's true. Although the regular banning of books in our country shows a profound disregard for the 1st Amendment and personal freedom, we may forget that it's also a testament to the continuing power of the written word and authors today. Just think about it. Would parents in Alabama be tripping over themselves to get "Harry Potter" or "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" taken out of their libraries if those books didn't touch upon some absolutely vital part of the gut?--If they didn't depict something real enough to scare the bejeezus out of us? It's something to think about. The way I see it, as long as books are still being banned, authors are succeeding at their jobs. Just look at the list. How many of the banned books are bad? None of them. In fact, just about all of them are classics.