I’ve got no patience now
So sick of complacence now
I’ve got no patience now
So sick of complacence now
Sick of sick of sick of sick of you
Time has come to pay
Know your enemy!
Yes I know my enemies
They’re the teachers who taught me to fight me
Compromise, conformity, assimilation, submission
Ignorance, hypocrisy, brutality, the elite
All of which are American dreams
from Rage Against the Machine, Know Your Enemy.
Women everywhere should be signing her anthem – loudly and proudly!
There are times I truly believe that I am the “nasty woman” liberal progressive that I am today because of the music of the 70s, the songs that told of human suffering like In The Ghetto, written and performed by Mac Davis. I’m so sad that he has died but eternally grateful that I had his music in my life. He made a difference.
The last week in September is the week set aside by readers in the US to emphasize and even celebrate those books that have been “banned” or challenged in the US. While the First Amendment of our US Constitution, soon to be a useless piece of paper that is no longer relevant thanks to the new SCOTUS, does not allow for the outright banning of books, there are challenges each year to withhold books from school and community libraries throughout the US – and the world. Although, let’s face it, the First Amendment certainly isn’t what it used to be in the US and schools are effectively banning books when they willingly no longer have their students read them and when Boards of Education vote to delete important information from their textbooks ala Thomas Jefferson and The Enlightenment as was done in Texas. Banning by omission is alive and well in the good ole USA. In my home town the local librarian selects books solely based on the local “readership,” meaning that subversive, challenging, thought provoking books never will see the light of day in her library. But hey, if you want a good Amish romance you will be in luck!
So, let’s look at some of the most “banned” or challenged books for 2020, shall we? Toni Morrison’s “Beloved” is always in the Top Ten as is “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck. I read all of Steinbeck’s books and short stories in junior high, age 13-15. He still is my favorite writer, most likely always will be, and, Of Mice and Men is my most recommended book to those who rarely read. It’s quick, easy and profound. To ban a work like this is disgraceful. No, it’s ignorance. It should be no surprise that 1984, Brave New World and Animal Farm made the list this year. After all, we wouldn’t want to see any resemblances to the current administration, now would we? And it goes without saying that the majority of school boards no longer allow books like Albert Camus’ The Stranger, anything by Kurt Vonnegut or ever A People’s History of Us by Howard Zinn to see the light of day in our precious public or parochial schools. Hell, is it any wonder that I homeschooled all of children? I couldn’t bear the thought of them being culturally or politically illiterate which is exactly what we are facing in today’s version of “America.”
With that said, I had the pleasure of re-reading several banned books and adding a few new ones to my collection. I’ll share my thoughts about them this week beginning with Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut.
Because I absolutely adore Kurt Vonnegut and always have, I’ve been teased that I moved to Indianapolis simply because that is where Vonnegut was from. His family played an integral part in the development of the Indianapolis area and their contributions were intelligent and long-lasting. However, from the moment I first read Breakfast of Champions – for literature class in HIGH SCHOOL – I’ve been hooked on his pacifism, brilliance and humor.
Slaughterhouse Five is an anti-war novel that withstands the test of time. The narrator is Billy Pilgrim, a WWII veteran who survived the bombing of Dresden (ask how many high school graduates in the US know what the bombing of Dresden was – you’ll be amazed at their ignorance.) Billy becomes “unstuck in time” and travels to another planet where he finds peace. While the earth wants Billy to talk about Dresden, all he wants to do is talk about Tralfamadore. Brutalism meets Sci-Fi in this cult classic which allows readers of nearly all ages to read and comprehend the horrors that Billy witnessed and understand that it is those horrors that must be avoided at all cost. It is a MUST READ for everyone.
This book has been challenged in many communities and in most schools but it was actually BURNED in Drake, ND. And you thought only the Nazis burned books…well, yes, they still do.
Oh, and for the record, I am writing this review because I want to. No publisher has given me a book and no media consultant is telling me I cannot speak about religion or politics or drugs or war or anything else which might offend. If you ARE offended by this, well, I won’t apologize. There is too much at stake in today’s world to continue to remain silent!
If you are in the US, please wear a mask. The life you save may be your own but it very well may be the life of someone like my beautiful daughter who is a Type 1 diabetic and who is working tirelessly on saving the climate OR my husband who just had open heart surgery OR my gorgeous son who is an incredible performer for Cirque’s “O” show – the picture health – but has an underlying case of Lyme disease that stays with you for life. You do not know who you are saving so don’t be selfish – MASK UP.
Today is the 50th anniversary of Kent State when the US Government shot and killed American college students. It is important to remember as we talk about how horrible China is, that the US has done unspeakable horrors of their own – IS doing unspeakable horrors of their own.
The students at Kent State were protesting a war that never should have been, a draft that was avoided by the rich and white, like Donald Trump. Today we have another tyrant in the White House, one who is encouraging mad men with guns to protest against their own state governments who are trying to protect them. The US has gone mad and it is getting worse with the lies coming straight from the mouth of the US President. Sadly, American citizens have not learned that the US government, the FEDERAL government, is not and never has been a friend of the people – unless you are one of the few, white, billionaires and I seriously doubt that you are.
If you would like to read more about the era leading up and including Kent State, I highly recommend the wonderful book, The Fourteenth of September by Rita Dragonette.
I always struggle with follow up. Even in my real life I’m a great thinker and planner and then I let other people follow up and, you know, get the praise or fall-out for it. The problem is that read books, write reviews…. and then no follow up. I LOVE reading comments and LOVE reading your thoughts about the books I’ve reviewed or books that you’ve read but I have struggled with how best to keep up with it all. Wellllll, DUH on me!!! After a YEAR of blogging I finally figured out that silly little bell in the upper right hand corner of the blog. There they all are! My comments, your comments, likes, etc. How stupid am I!?!?
So, apologies for not being a better blogger. I really am that slow sometimes. Quick reader, slow to notice the obvious all around me. I will do better – promise. And, thank you for your kindness and support despite my stupidity!
I’m trying to write reviews of the many books that I’ve recently read but my heart and soul are grieving today because of the actions of my government. Through the world of books, I, like many of you, have made friends with readers from all over the world, including Iraq and Iran. When I think of what the murderous actions of the US will cause, I think of the number of civilians who will ultimately killed. Those innocents no longer are just a number seen on my screen. They are the friends, family members and, yes, my friends, who are just like me. They laugh, they cry, they love, they marry, they weep and they mourn. NO ONE, not one person on this planet deserves to be at war. The MEN, and they all are men aren’t they, who are putting our lives at risk MUST GO! We, the intelligent ones, the connected, those who know one another, must put an end to this nationalistic BS. This isn’t about being patriotic. It isn’t about religion. It is NOT about politics. It is all about power and greed. Our lives, collectively, are worth far more than their desire for more power, their testosterone, their little….hands. I am sorry for my government, for the Americans who continue to support this travesty. Please know that there are those of us who do NOT support their egregiousness.
I just read about this tag on Cathy’s blog (Between the Lines) and loved it so much I wanted to share it with you too. I won’t tag others to do it, but I hope you will tag yourself and link back to me and/or Cathy.
Find an unread book in your TBR (physical or kindle) to match each letter of your blog name. A great way to bring attention back to possibly forgotten books needing some love.
M -Meg & Jo – Virginia Kantra
A – Alice, The Chronicles of Alice, Book 1 – Christina Henry
C – Curious Case of the Dog in the Night-Time – Mark Haddon
S – Six Women of Salem: The Accused and Their Accusers in the Salem Witch Trials –
B – Bell, Book and Candlemas – Jennifer David Hesse
O – Once Upon A River – Diane Setterfield
O – (the) Orchard Keeper – Cormac McCarthy
K – Kingdom of Needle and Bone – Mira Grant
S – (the) Second Sleep – Robert Harris