Tuesday, May 25, 2010

on banning

this time I don't have a valid excuse to have been silent for so long,except for ,maybe, waiting for having something to say, and that is debatable too.
The chairs and arm-chairs must be empty by now and the fire in the fire-place out.
Oh well, I'll just put on a record, a vinyl of course, on the old gramophone, and continue the rumbling to myself.
Summer is almost here(and by here I am not referring to Seattle) and I've been buying quite a lot of quick reads for it, trying to maintain a certain level of literature and decor (at least in the title and cover). I cannot swear on the content of every single one of them and I'm sure a couple of the nasty ones slipped through the cracks, disguised as critical essays, and gained their position on the white summer stool that I strategically placed next to the entrance and that nobody has shown any interest in, so far.
I have to say that it looks like, for this summer, people have decided to go back to the good old classics. The English classics, the Russian classics, the American classics,the French classics both of the 1800's and the 1900's, you name it,they are on it.
So ,out of curiosity, i went to check my reference book about the 100 banned books, to see which ones of the classics have been banned in history and why, and from a quick and superficial look at the table of contents I realized that just about each and every book ever written has been banned at some point in time and history for whatever reason matched the metality of the time.Even the Bible and the Quran didn't escape the sad destiny or brutal disease of banning...although now that I come to think of it, banning might be just what will keep our funny species reading: tell me I am forbidden to read it and I'll go straight to it.
What I really would like to have a peek at , is the list of books that are being banned right now and we are not aware of their existence because of it, and since at it it would be nice to scroll through the list of the big editors' rejections, the ones that don't even make it past their desks....just a thought.
I'm sure I'm not telling you anything new here, but if you want to follow the apparent trend of saluting the summer by reading or re-reading a banned classic, here there are a couple of suggestions taken from the "100 banned books":
Literature suppressed on political grounds:
Orwell's 1984, of course
Macchiavelli's the prince
Literature suppressed on sexual grounds:
Rousseau's Confessions
Voltaire's Candide
Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's lover
Flaubert's Madame Bovary
Boccaccio's decameron
Faulkner's Sanctuary
Literrature suppressed on social grounds:
Twain's Huck Finn
Burgess's a clockwork orange
Whitman's Leaves of grass
Kesey's Cuckoo's nest
Plath's the bell jar
literature suppressed on religious grounds (to which i suggest you get to in the winter)
Mahfouz's children of the alley
Michel de montaigne's essays
Kazantzakis' last temptation of Christ
Giordano Bruno's on the infinite universe and worlds
Darwin's on the origin of species
Rushdie's the satanic verses
happy readings....

Saturday, May 1, 2010

gold-diggers and gamblers

i was lost into books for a while there, and i managed to free myself from them only because i found out that by ignoring them,they disappear....in reality that is how long it took me to recover from the by-annual Seattle public library huge sale where all books are one dollar ,unless you go into the fenced "better books" area, which should be really re-labeled the " same books like outside,just more expensive" area. All in all it was like going into a hell designed just for book-dealers, where not only you pay money to enter hell, but you voluntarily decide to enter and suffer the pain that the flames inflict upon you. The place's hot temperature is due to the fact that the room is a sort of green-house with big windows, and on top of that you have to fight your way through a herd of people with red eyes and smoke coming out of their noses ready to horn you if you happen to be in their way. The majority of the crowd is divided into two categories: the gold-diggers who come with these little computerized machines,the scanners, which scan the books' barecode and immediately tell you whether the book is worth to sell on amazon.Usually this category consists of people who know nothing about books and possibly never read one,howevver I still haven't figured out whether they work for somebody who remains in the shadow or they do it out of their basement as second job
(this is called book-spy talk).
The second category is represented by people like me who has acquired some knowledge but is still guessing a lot, and so I buy hoping to have paid less that what the book is worth but it doesn't always happen that I'm lucky that way. The rest of the crowd consists of regular readers who come to stock on cheap but good books and students.
Since I'm not interested in gambling for fun and for work necessity I'm not good at it, I decided to let it go and just look for stuff that looked interesting or different or unusual and ultimately just fun to be surrounded by at the bookstore. And magically, as soon as I did that, one after the other the good books came to me, jumped into my lap like frogs and hit my eyes like a flash-light.
Among them ,I happened to come across a series of italian modern classics, the ones that never get to be read in highschool because by the end of the school year it is too late to pack them in after months and months of renaissance poetry and 1800's literature.The modern writers ,the ones that lived through the wars and observed the post-war re-defining era become a sort of underground culture you discover by yourself during the summer months when you can read the books you want. So during those months of hot sunny days ,yellow with light, red with tomatos on the vines, blue with the sea and green with basil ,you read about the realist writers who display inner conflicts and daily struggles with real poverty , you read about the disillusioned idealist who have to face political contradictions and failed philosophies, you read stories of places destroyed by years of despotism and two global wars that left a collective consciousness filled with disenchantment and confusion about how it could have all possibly been real. And so,like the movies made during those years, the books too unravel out of a surrealistic atmosphere as though it is all a strange dream....
here the pics
if you haven't noticed, i will mention the fact that among these finds there is a heavy absence, that one of women writers who belong to the same group as these fellows up here. I couldn't see anyone of them down there in hell and maybe that is because there aren't many women who end up in hell being immediately sanctified by the origin of their nature. One I have to mention just in case you one day happen to come across a translation and wonder whether you should read it: Elsa Morante. Anything that she wrote is a rare treasure to look at.