Unsurly Thursday

I'm not remotely surly today, but I also can't think of a post title (I suck so badly at SEO optimization, I might as well title every post DO NOT READ: DEVOID OF ANYTHING INSPIRING, ENTERTAINING OR REMOTELY TIME-WORTHY and have done with it). I've had the loveliest week, which is weird since it's January and typically I'd be eyes-deep in the Slough of Despond. It's been cold and the roads have been not great, so aside from grocery shopping and ferrying Eve to acting class and piano I've been mostly hermitting, while baking, cooking, hanging on Twitter with fabulous people, reading and making another embarrassing blunder in one of my courses but who cares? I blamed the children for my witlessness, and the instructor has kids too so she was on board with it.

I read a couple of articles on Book Riot recently that referred to my issue about Orson Scott Card and whether I should see Ender's Game: No, I Won't Read Your Book if I Think You're a Monster, and Why It's Important to Keep Reading Books by People Even if They're Monsters. Which is kind of a bad title, isn't it? It sort of makes it sound like all people are monsters, or all people who write books. Shouldn't it have said Bad People? Anyway, it didn't clarify my position a WHOLE lot, but it made me think of more Stuff to Say About It. Which I've now forgotten in the time it took me to track down the articles and link to them.

Okay, truthfully, I had remembered the first title as No, I Won't  Read Your Book If You're a Monster, and my point was that it would more properly be No, I Won't Read Your Book If You Qualify as a Monster According to My Principles, which is kind of what it DOES say, so that took some of the wind out of my sails. But reading it, and the other article, did make me realize that walling myself off in some pristine place where I only read books written by nice, nice people doesn't really sit right with me. I like the quote from the second article that "reading a book by someone isn't my 'vote' for that person as a human being". The first article made sense to me; I sympathize with her point, but I don't empathize with it. Eve went on a Roald Dahl tear last year - read every single one of his books, then his autobiography, then did her speech on him. When the author of the first article asked something like How can you read your child Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and later have to explain that Dahl supported Hitler and hated Jews? Well, I can talk to her about the fact that some people have some really wrong ideas about how being different makes you inferior, and sometimes it will surprise you very unpleasantly when it's someone you thought you would like who has those ideas. The way we talk about anything else, in other words.

There's also the issue with the second article, that reading a book by someone who holds views you find reprehensible isn't necessarily getting to 'know your enemy' - they likely don't set their views out in plain language, if it's fiction they're writing. But if someone writes literature that seems to embody kindness, and graciousness, and generosity of spirit, even when they personally don't seem to embody these things, it does show that people are more than one thing. So yes, if someone is proved to have committed a crime, by all means I am for their conviction and imprisonment. If someone thinks homosexuality is criminal or disgusting, I will argue against that to my last breath. But will I refuse to read their books? No, I don't think I will. Because that won't change their mind, and it might contribute to closing my own.

I had more stuff to say, but I'm tired and the kitchen is a mess and Angus needs a smoothie. Just to prove how unsurly I am, I've started forcing myself to put on a big fake maniacal smile when things go wrong - if I break something, or do something dumb, or leave the van when I'm in a hurry and I've finally gotten where I'm going and then have to go back and unlock the van door because I've left the lights on. Because sometimes smiling even a fake smile makes you feel better, and even if it doesn't I take some comfort from the fact that if anyone's watching I probably look really scary.


Maria said…
I would rather have a root canal than read a book written by Sarah Palin...or a guess I should say written by Lynn Vincent....
Lynn said…
This is such a tough topic. There's definitely "artists" that are so open and bold with their personal agendas that it turns me off of reading their books (or, more commonly, from seeing their movies). I just figure there's no way their personal ideas can't filter into their work.

But on the other hand, there's been plenty of times when I've read a novel, and later found out something about the author that was unsavory...but still loved the book.

I almost think it's best to try to pick books blind - not knowing much at all, if anything, about the author. Ugh, it just goes round and round, doesn't it?
Bibliomama said…
Maria - yes, but what if she wrote Good books?

Steph - sorry.

Lynn - Yes, yes it does.
Nicole said…
ROALD DAHL? I know we've talked about this before, and I'm torn. Do I boycott Michael Jackson music because I think the late gloved one was gross/ mentally ill/ allegedly a pedophile?
Hannah said…
This is super-relevant right now because Stephen King tweeted yesterday that he felt Dylan Farrow's story had "palpable bitchery" and I just finished Doctor Sleep, which I loved. And I've been an SK fan since I was ten & sneaking his books off my mom's bookshelf.

Do I think his comment was dickish? Yup. Do I think I want to boycott his books forever? Nope. But still, I'm annoyed that he demonstrated his ignorance/prejudice so nakedly, and that he turned out to be human after all.

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