Sunday, September 22, 2013

What would Madeleine do?

I read A Wrinkle In Time at the normal age people do.  I don't remember exactly how old I was but I was probably just a bit younger than Meg Murry. I was not a science fiction loving kid, although most of my friends were.  It didn't matter.  A Wrinkle In Time was, at the time, the best most important book ever written.

I am not sure where I heard it; I am not sure it is true but I think it is: Madeleine L'Engle wrote A Wrinkle In Time as her mother was dieing.  Of cancer.  AWIT was her reconciling that with her own beliefs in a merciful god, which is according to her, one of her core beliefs.  Alas, as is all too often the case, there are people who, when talking about freedom of religion mean freedom of THEIR religion.  It never means freedom for any other religion or, god forbid freedom from religion.  But, as so often happens, I digress.

Recently, the Library of Congress opened an exhibit called Books That Shaped America.  The banned books people went through the list of country shaping books & pointed out those that had been or were even currently banned somewhere in America.  As I type this I have not yet looked at this list but I am guessing To Kill A Mockingbird & Huckleberry Finn are on that list.  Lets go check.

Yep, both are there along with a slew of others that I would have to agree made us what we are.  For better or worse.  This year I will, as I do every year, observe banned books week by reading a banned book.  Thanks to Senator Holtzclaw of Alabama Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye has risen to the top of the pile.  That's right, if you weren't trying to ban it, I would not be reading it & writing about reading it. 

Which brings me to another observation: what is it with white conservatives in southern American states (perhaps I should describe them as former slave states) wanting to ban books written by black women describing experiences that actually happened to black women in southern American states?  I guess it is kinda hard to stand there saying how things were better in the good ole days & how government interference ruined all that when there is a Nobel Laureate saying better for you maybe....except for the rapes, the beatings, the lynchings & the murders. 

My childhood was not one of slavery, incest, etc.; it was a rather quiet life.  I am the oldest.  After me came a brother who was widely regarded as very intelligent but a bit odd & a brother & a sister who were musical prodigies, very active socially.  Have I mentioned how much I loved A Wrinkle in Time?  I am so glad that when confronted with the ordinary horror most of us will face, that is what Madeleine did.  She died, earlier this month in 2007, but I thought maybe today, the first day of Banned Books Week 2014 would be a better place for this post.

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