"…While on the subject of burning books, I want to congratulate librarians, not famous for their physical strength, their powerful political connections or great wealth, who, all over this country, have staunchly resisted anti-democratic bullies who have tried to remove certain books from their shelves, and destroyed records rather than have to revealt to thought police the names of persons who have checked out those titles.
So the America I loved still exists, if not in the White House, the Supreme Court, the Senate, the House of Representatives, or the media. The America I loved still exists at the front desks of our public libraries."
This latest book from Kurt Vonnegut is a very short collection of essays — not more than about 100 pages, and I read it in an afternoon, which is saying something given my current reading rate. Vonnegut has always, to me, been a provacative and smart author — in the tradition of great American authors like Mark Twain and John Steinbeck, but with slightly more aliens and scatalogical humor. One of my favorite skeptics — although he’d call himself a humanist.
Over the years he’s gotten a little ticked at how things have gone in this country, and the current adminstration, coupled with Vonnegut’s advanced age, has resulted in some really scathing writing from him. While I don’t agree with all of it, I believe in a lot of it.
It seems to me that asking questions, putting a fine point on the choices that we’re making as a society and a country, and really talking about what’s happening — these characteristics are some of what makes authors truly great — and they’re what Kurt Vonnegut has done his whole career.
Maybe that’s why he’s been banned so much in our libraries, too, come to think of it.