|Minotaur study by Clive Hicks-Jenkins |
Writer bounces out of bed at 6:30 and scurried about making lunch for her third child, packing track-snack in a sack (can I toss in another rhyme?), fixing breakfast, and tossing books in the backpack (there you go.) Mid-way, the writer turns on NPR and hears that 45% of teens read no more than 1-2 books a year. Or did they say less than 1-2? At any rate, not much of note. Writer plunks down at her laptop to have a cup of tea. First thing she sees: novelist Darin Strauss on twitter, mentioning a new book that uses "Jewish man" as a slur: "Nobody cares / even notices." The Author aka "Ass Queen" is featured in Salon (a coup for a writer, right? like her treatment in Slate or on NPR) with an interview about being a porn star and drug abuser--smoking crack in a BSDM dungeon, anybody? Hey, now we know what kind of lively, appealing-to-the-curious book the almost-non-reading 45% might possibly read! Because that's a book-with-a-hook--we writers are always suppose to have a hook that we are willing to share with the world--that will sell, even to non-reading teens, I expect.
Who would have guessed that this would one day be the writer's world, back when she first gave her years to making something true and rejoicing in putting words into new shapes? A world where teens don't read and professors complain that their students don't crack open their books. A world where a clever volume reveling in unabashed porn and drug use has more of that desirable quality, hook, and will get more coverage than a first-rate novel (and infinitely more coverage than a good book of poems.)
All you lovers of reading and shapeliness in words, defy this crazy world! If hopeless, still be brave. Read better books, make better books. Encourage taste, a human achievement that used to support culture. Online or in-person, recommend what's best in the arts. Make the better world, even if you fear that you are the only person who inhabits it. Dream of a better culture, a more worthy gift to hand on to our children.