Friday, September 21, 2012

The Land of Always - Read

by Gary
As some of my fellow bloggers here on Criminal Minds have opined, time travel or I suppose in this case, book arena projection, is tough stuff.  We all know the story of the time traveler who goes back in time to kill Hitler and how this invariably leads to unintended consequences.  The Butterfly Effect in effect – that as Wikipedia states:   In chaos theory, the butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions, where a small change at one place in a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences to a later state.
But having stated that, the allure of being able to step into one of the worlds in a book or a series is just too strong.  While other territories I hope I have the good sense to avoid.
For instance many crime fiction aficionados have read Donald Westlake’s, writing as Richard Stark, series Parker, about an amoral professional thief and the heisters and plotters he deals with, often fatally.  I really dig these lean, spare books.  When I first read The Hunter, the first book in the series from the early ‘60s, and the basis of the wonderfully realized gangster film Point Blank with Lee Marvin, I was hooked.  But I wouldn’t last half a day in the circles parker runs in so better to leave my attraction for his element on the page.
Conversely, what about the fantastic time in the 1930s as depicted in the pulps of that era embodied in the adventures of the likes of  Doc Savage and the Avenger.  Weird, strange villains with their death rays or devices that could rive men and woman mad from miles away.  Okay, sure, that’s plenty dangerous, but there was all these cool Art Deco designed gadgets, lost civilizations, larger-than-life heroes and heroines, hidden gold mines, exotic locales and so on.  What red-blooded guy wouldn’t be attracted to participating in all of that?
Speaking of the pulps reminds me too of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ John Carter of Mars.  How cool would it be to travel to a mythical mars, Barsoom to its inhabitants, where as an Earthman, due to the difference in gravity (I think) I’d have increased reflexes, speed and strength.  Yeah, there’s big green, four-armed dudes with tusks  and bad attitudes and even bigger giant four-armed gorillas, but I’d learn to fight with a sword and meet exotic women – if I managed to survive not being eaten or smashed.
But the great thing about our current question is that it presumes we can read subject matter far and wide, fiction and nonfiction, we can pick and choose, be motivated, moved or appalled and angered.  But we can read what we want.  This September 30 thru October 6 is Banned Books Week.  Not to jump on my soap box, but it sure is a good thing that we live in a country where people have the right to object to material they feel is objectionable, but where an examination of those materials can happen and we can make up our own minds about a book, play, movie or piece of music.
Here’s the American Library Association’s list of the 10 most challenged books in 2011 and why they were challenged:
1) ttyl; ttfn; l8r, g8r (series), by Lauren Myracle
Offensive language; religious viewpoint; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group

2) The Color of Earth (series), by Kim Dong Hwa
Nudity; sex education; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group

3) The Hunger Games trilogy, by Suzanne Collins
Anti-ethnic; anti-family; insensitivity; offensive language; occult/satanic; violence

4) My Mom’s Having A Baby! A Kid’s Month-by-Month Guide to Pregnancy, by Dori Hillestad Butler -- Nudity; sex education; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group
5) The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
Offensive language; racism; religious viewpoint; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group

6) Alice (series), by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Nudity; offensive language; religious viewpoint

7) Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
Insensitivity; nudity; racism; religious viewpoint; sexually explicit

8) What My Mother Doesn’t Know, by Sonya Sones
Nudity; offensive language; sexually explicit

9) Gossip Girl (series), by Cecily Von Ziegesar
Drugs; offensive language; sexually explicit

10) To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
Offensive language; racism


Sue Jaffarian said...

Wonderful post, Gary. We may not always want to jump into the books we read, but we damn well have the right to read them!

Gary Phillips said...

Indeed, Sue Ann.

Meredith Cole said...

Thanks for reminding us all about Banned Books week, Gary. If you don't like a book--hey, don't read it! But please don't try to stop others from doing it... It reminds me too much of book burning during the already mentioned Nazi era...

Vicki Delany said...

I can't believe To Kill a Mockingbird is still being challenged! We took that book when I was in school. Even before that my father read some of it to me, because he thought it had such an important lesson to teach.

Brian said...

Great post. A note on the Butterfly Effect. Ray Bradbury's "A Sound of Thunder" is great, the movie is terrible.

Thanks for the reminder on Banned Books Week.