June 7, 2020

"Have you considered that, if you identify as white and read only the work of white authors, you are in some ways listening to an extension of your own voice on repeat?"

A question asked at NPR — in "Your Bookshelf May Be Part Of The Problem," by Juan Vidal. Vidal begins a sentence with "As a Latino," so I'm reading that to mean that he identifies as Latino.

Myself, I identify as an American who was young in the 1960s, and back then, the word "identify" had a colloquial meaning that I haven't seen in a long time. We would talk about "identifying" with an idea or a situation. It made sense back then to say "I can identify." It meant you could immediately feel yourself to be inside of another person's situation.

It was related to the way we used to talk — and maybe still do talk — about "identifying" with a  character in a novel of a book. Some people would judge a book by whether you could "identify" with the central character. I remember a conversation I had with someone back around 1970, when I read a lot of novels. I was critical of that idea that what matters is whether you can "identify" with a character. I said "I never identify with a character." My interlocutor said, "I always do."

Should I marry that person, or is that a bad idea? That's water under the bridge, but do you identify with him or with me?

I'm sure many of you are thinking something along the lines of: You two just had different ideas of what it means to "identify." Althouse had some super-strong idea. To her, it meant that you get caught up in an intense delusion that you are the person in the narrative. To the interlocutor, it meant something more like understanding how things must have felt to the character in the book and having the capacity to imagine yourself in that position and to visualize how you would feel.

If it was a competition about who is the better reader, who won? Is it better to see the person in the book as a mysterious other with an entire subjective world inside that will be revealed to you? Or is it better to see that character as always essentially you, showing you that we are all the same?

By pure chance, last night, I watched the "Twilight Zone" episode, "People Are Alike All Over" (1960):
You're looking at a species of flimsy little two-legged animal with extremely small heads, whose name is Man. Warren Marcusson, age thirty-five. Samuel A. Conrad, age thirty-one. They're taking a highway into space, Man unshackling himself and sending his tiny, groping fingers up into the unknown. Their destination is Mars, and in just a moment we'll land there with them.
Marcusson tells Conrad that he's sure people are alike all over, but Marcusson dies in the crash landing on Mars. Conrad is greeted by creatures who look and seem exactly like human beings — white people, by the way. They take him to a house that they've built to look exactly like the house in his mind — the house they saw in his mind. He thinks it's lovely until he realizes all the doors are locked and there is no window. Then a wall opens up, he sees he's behind bars, there's a crowd of Martians gawking at him, and there's a sign that says "Earth Creature in his native habitat." Conrad cries out, "Marcusson! Marcusson, you were right! You were right. People are alike.... people are alike everywhere!"

Have you considered that, if you identify as human and read only the work of human authors, you are in some ways listening to an extension of your own voice on repeat?

73 comments:

rhhardin said...

Blacks should read white literature, in other words.

Temujin said...

"Have you considered that, if you identify as human and read only the work of human authors, you are in some ways listening to an extension of your own voice on repeat?"

Thank you, Ann. We have reached peak collectivism in this country and the entirety of Western Civilization. It's as if the lessons of the previous 20 centuries have still gone unlearned. Well, they have. The Nazis? They used collectivism to separate humans into groups. The Soviet Communists? Did the same thing. Mao? He was the best at it. His political descendants? Same.

Throughout Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas- collectivism, or tribalism- call it what you will, has killed more people than any base philosophy. And now we're so smart, we're Woke. We're supremely collectivist. No one has ever been as collectivist as we are now. Why, we can change the pronoun to describe how we identify- daily. And you have to keep up with us otherwise, you're injuring my spirit. Your reading, your thoughts, your words are all suspect. WE choose the approved groups. WE choose the language in which you can address the approved groups. We monitor your thoughts and decide- thumbs up or thumbs down- if you can keep your job, go outside, speak to us, walk with us, or live.

The Woke are beyond the New Fascists. They are the thought police and SS rolled into one. And no one- not you, Ann. Not Meade. Not Inga, Achilles, Browndog, Ken, Howard, Michael K., Drago, Narciso, Yancey Ward, BeachBit-and-Hammers or any of your readers will be safe from this philosophy. You are ALL suspect.

Get used to it. Until we fight back, this is the future. And it will not be pretty.

MayBee said...

Are we about to scoot right past cultural appropriation into some new way to be a badthinker?

Ron Winkleheimer said...

I identify as an American

That is not an option now. The situation is grave. Things will get worse before they get better, if they do get better.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

To be more precise, the people currently in charge don't care what you identify as, they are going to assign you an identity based on your skin color, sexual preference, and ethnicity. And then you get to be placed on a scale of victim-hood. As a white male heterosexual I am a villain. My only salvation is to prostrate myself before my victims.

wendybar said...

You must think alike, you must think alike you must think alike.....How do you like Progressivism now?? So much for progress.

traditionalguy said...

A man’s a man for all a that “is the American Scots-Irish expression of equality. And most of us identify with it. Should we be ashamed of seeing all men as equal because it is a WHITE attitude? Kings and elites hate us for that deplorable mind set. And that is also the mind set that so angers the tradition of the kings and elites that rule African culture.

mesquito said...

Take up the White Liberal’s Burden!

tim maguire said...

When I say “identify”, I mean I share some of their motivation and way of thinking. I can imagine myself making similar choices if I'm in the same situation.

Your Latino fellow is a typical idiot—all white people are the same, so one white person has nothing to learn from another white person. I wonder if he feels the same way about Latino people.

Amadeus 48 said...

I reject group identities. I try to treat and think of the people I meet as individuals, open to life’s profundities and ironies.

I am not going to play the group identity game.


Darkisland said...

What does "latino" mean?

I ask that seriously, not rhetorically.

I find that no two people will give the same definition. Often not even the same definition on successive days.

And most people can't give any coherent definition at all.

John Henry

Fernandinande said...

Juan Valdez, you got some 'splainin' to do!

Dave Begley said...

Great post by Ann. Agree 100%. I identify as an American too.

Expat(ish) said...

I read a lot of history and sci-fi and I presume a lot of it is written by old and/or white guys, but I don’t check. These digital days you don’t even get a crack of the jacket photo to look at. I also consume a lot of video how-to stuff and that I know is pretty diverse because you see the “star” during the video. M

I never realized that was a problem because I never got a college degree to think about stuff like that - I was a STEM major.

But now that I’ve thought about it, they are wrong and it’s not a problem.

People can be wrong headed. I think Newman got it right. https://youtu.be/_WUyZXhLHMk

-XC

mezzrow said...

My only salvation is to prostrate myself before my victims.

This is a fallacy, Ron. You are beyond the reach of salvation. That's the message.

Bruce Hayden said...

I think that this all this identity politics is obviously the result of better than a half century of actions by our enemies to destroy ‘this country, and all it stands for, from the inside. And that is by destroying our confidence in who and what we are. The Soviets, in particular, knew that they would never be able to defeat us on the battlefield, so worked to destroy us from within.

The Chinese don’t stay up nights worrying about their identity. They are Han Chinese with maybe five millennia of culture and civilization. And if they are not Han, they no doubt want to be, and if they can’t be reeducated to believe that, they are better off dead, with their organs harvested for the good of the people. The Russians have similar stories about themselves, as do the Persians, Arabs, etc.

We have a story about ourselves that is just as glorious, if not more so. Our (figurative for many) ancestors came here for opportunity, and to escape religious persecution, and esp the armed strife of the Protestants breaking from the Roman church. Starting with the rule of law, stretching back to the Magna Carta, through philosophers like Locke, we threw off our colonial British shackles with a revolution justified through natural rights, with those same natural rights forming the basis of our new country. And that country thrived, becoming the most powerful in history. Part of that, again, was our dependence upon our Constitution, because is the agreement by which we agree to be governed. Because that is one of our natural rights - to govern ourselves.

What is not to be proud of? Slavery? Slavery has been practiced since the beginning of recorded history, and continues to be practiced to this day. Many civilizations, including both the Greeks, Roman, Chinese, etc, through the ages, have been built on slavery. We went into a very bloody civil war to abolish it, did so before much of the rest of the world, and then championed the fight against it for the next century and a half? Treatment of our aboriginal population? Most of human history involves one group of people conquering another, and taking their land for their own. Both the Chinese and the Russians continue to murder their conquered peoples who refuse to adequately assimilate. We are nearing a century and a half since we aggressively attacked and murdered previous owners of our lands. We then went on and saved the world twice by winning two wirld wars, and prevented the spread of brutal Soviet Communism through a long Cold War.

It is notable, I think, that much of the world has adopted at least the semblance of our Constitutional democracy. Even the Soviet Union had a constitution. We are still a shining light that much of the world tries to emulate.

So, why do so many here try to tear it all down? I think because our ideals stand in the way of Soviet, Chinese and Muslim expansion, and now in the way of international government run by self elected elites.

No, not all cultures are equally good. For the most part, ours is better. Sure, other democratic experiments can, and do, flourish under our umbrella. But we really don’t have viable competitors. Fascism, Communism, militant Islam, etc have all failed, and shown us their murderous consequences over the last century. And, yet, our elites demand that we deny the culture that brought us here.

Bob Boyd said...

Have you considered that, if you identify as human and read only the work of human authors, you are in some ways listening to an extension of your own voice on repeat?

It's better than nothing.

BidenFamilyTaxPayerFundedCrackPipe said...

"Have you considered that, if you identify as black and read only the work of black
authors, you are in some ways listening to an extension of your own voice on repeat?"

?

rehajm said...

What does "latino" mean?

To campaign managers is means 'homogenous spanish speaking voting block'.

clint said...

"If it was a competition about who is the better reader, who won?"

I love this question. I can't imagine how exhausting life must be for the wokerati. If I couldn't just enjoy a good book without worrying about doing it wrong. Am I guilty of appropriation if I identify with a character of a different race? Am I a racist if I don't? Am I guilty of a thoughtcrime for trying to understand the experience of a person with a different life experience, or if I don't, or both?

Sebastian said...

"your own voice on repeat"

Considering the enormous creativity of other humans, I wouldn't be so presumptuous.

gilbar said...

serious question

"Have you considered that, if you listen to NPR, you are in some ways listening to an extension of your own voice on repeat?"

How many people that Listen to NPR, are PROUD to state; that they ONLY Listen to NPR?

Lurker21 said...

That was part of the problem with graduate school. One learned how to be a "better" reader, more discerning, more alive to the uses of language, more alert to what the writer was doing. But the naive passion for reading, for putting one's self into the shoes - into the mind and body - of characters went away (if it ever was there in the first place). One became more critical and analytical, but it could really turn one off to reading (assuming one was really that interested in it to begin with).

I also remember a lot of talk about "identity" in high school English. The emphasis was on growing up and forming an "adult" "identity," in finding someway of fitting into the alien "adult" world. Much talk about anti-heroes and Holden Caulfield. Today, it seems like everybody has an "identity" based on gender or race or ethnicity or sexual preference or sexual identity, or sometimes even class. I guess it makes things easier. It does seem like the line between childhood and adulthood isn't so defined anymore. People do still belong to different generations, but adolescents and "grown-ups" seem to be more alike now than they were back then.

As to the complaint of Distinguished Latino Author Whose Name I Have Already Forgotten, it's sort of pointless. If you are reading (or listening to) White American and English writers, you are probably reading authors from other countries, other parts of the world, and other ages. If you are reading Whitman or Ginsberg or Kerouac, you are at least aware of what Asian sages have been doing through the centuries. Nowadays you are also probably reading a lot of African-American writers. If you aren't reading Latino writers it may be because you can't read everything, or because you suspect that it's more or less a rehash of the writing of earlier immigrant groups. After my own ethnic group gets its Great American Novel, I may look into what Distinguished Latino Author has written.

Mark O said...

It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge. You’re moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas.

Why is the default assumption of these articles that "white folk" are racist? Must we submit to that premise? Can we argue against it? Or, is that just a sign of unconscious racial bias?

Kevin said...

The left is always identifying problems.

It’s the solutions where they struggle.

Kevin said...

If everyone would identify as black, the bias in policing problem would be solved.

Bilwick said...

I'm sure Mr. Valdez is as cosmopolitan as he sounds, and probably has a whole bookshelf of PRO-freedom literature (Hayek, von Mises, Rand, Hazlitt, etc.). No cocooning for that guy!

William said...

@Bruce Hayden at 8:01. Well said.

Unknown said...

The mention of Richard Wright “devouring” H.L. Mencken’s book paints a lovey portrait of real America, to my mind. -willie

William said...

I defy anyone on earth to identify with the protagonist in a Borges story. Some characters in Marques fiction are recognizably human, but you don't run across them very often while out shopping.....Cervantes and Cortes both were in the Battle of Lepanto. There's an element of surrealism in Cervantes' fiction, but if you want surrealism, there's nothing to match the actual life of Cortes.....Spanish and Hispanic history is very strange and surreal. Latino writers would do well to ground themselves in the empiricism of Anglo-Saxon writers like Shakespeare or Dickens. Too much Cervantes or Marques can really fuck the mind up.

WhoKnew said...

Typical twaddle. When I read Tacitus or the Iliad I am opening a window into a world far more different from my own than when I read anything written by a contemporary black or Hispanic writer who lives in the same world I do. But according to the fools of our time, I'm just reading anther white guy.

EdwdLny said...

What kind of a jackass decides to read anything based upon the race of the author(s) ? If you're injecting race into the decision to read, or not read, an article, publication etc then you have ignored the interest of the article. Ignored it for asinine reasoning. Good grief.

Lucien said...

Ann’s closing brought to mind Ursula Leguin’s “The Author of the Acacia Seeds”.

Marty said...

I always answer "American" to the U S census question on ethnicity.

Craig Howard said...

What does "latino" mean?

A Latino is a non-white person of Spanish or Portuguese ancestry who lives in the Western Hemisphere and who votes Democrat [or would if we would only let zie in].

Examples of people who are not Latino:

Ted Cruz
Marco Rubio
George Zimmerman
Everyone from Spain.

I hope that clears it up.

I am not Laslo.

Darkisland said...

rehajm said...

To campaign managers is means 'homogenous spanish speaking voting block'

See, there's the problem. They are not homgenous. Puerto Ricans, Cuban-Americans, and Mexican-Americans have pretty much nothing in common. Not culture, not ancestry, not even language.

Most second generation prs, cas and mas don't even speak Spanish.

Caveat on PRs: I mean the ones we call "nyorican" whose parents and grandparents fled to the upper 50 in the 50s and 60s and later. Puerto Ricans in PR speak Spanish but don't generally vote in federal elections.

I speak Spanish. I identify as Puerto Rican.

Does that make me Latino?

Not criticizing you, Rejahm. Just pointing out the absurdity.

John Henry

Darkisland said...



 WhoKnew said...

But according to the fools of our time, I'm just reading anther white guy.

Greeks are "white"? Who knew?

They didn't used to be. They were one of the primary targets of the KKK and American Legion in the 20s.

https://www.pappaspost.com/forgotten-history-the-klan-vs-americans-of-greek-heritage-in-an-era-of-hate-and-the-birth-of-the-ahepa/

John Henry

Gahrie said...

It made sense back then to say "I can identify." It meant you could immediately feel yourself to be inside of another person's situation.

Leftist ideology today depends upon the idea that you can't "identify" with other people. "You wouldn't understand, it's a Black thing". "White priveledge".

mikee said...

I have read many works of literature without caring about the color of the skin of the author. I find this obsession with skin color not just unseemly, but counterproductive to productive living. So I ain't gonna play the stupid game of injecting racism into all of life, and will instead judge people on the basis of their characters, which I once heard was an aspirational goal for all of us.

Bilwick said...

"What kind of a jackass decides to read anything based upon the race of the author(s) ?"

Leftwing jackasses.


John Lynch said...

It's not the race of the author. It's their politics.

Has it occurred to anyone that if you only read political books, from the same political slant...?

n.n said...

Colorful judgment. Diversity denies individual dignity. #Wicked

Sam L. said...

"Have you considered that, if you identify as human and read only the work of human authors, you are in some ways listening to an extension of your own voice on repeat?"

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Where ARE these purported "non-human" authors?????

Zach said...

They take him to a house that they've built to look exactly like the house in his mind — the house they saw in his mind.

Solaris (the book and both movies) takes this concept to an extreme. Investigating a planet sized intelligence, a man suddenly has his dead wife restored to him -- but only his memory of her. He remembers her as suicidal; she's suicidal, but doesn't know why. Is the intelligence trying to communicate? To mimic? Does it even know the humans are there?

Freeman Hunt said...

In a recent video, John McWhorter said he'd write his next book on anti-racism as a religion.

I remember newly fundamentalist kids in high school making a big show of destroying their CDs that didn't match their new faith.

JAORE said...

Bet I could name several authors that are POC, but that this schmoo thinks are an extension of my voice. what he really means you have to read (and agree with) authors that agree with me.

Does, for example, he read Thomas Sowell?

Bilwick said...

On Instapundit, Ed Driscoll asks if NPR really wants the works of John Maynard Keynes replaced by those of Thomas Sowell or Walter Williams. I kind of doubt it.

Greg the class traitor said...

I identify as human, and read other human authors who write well

I don't do charity reads, or charity buys, of crappy authors just because of their skin color

If you "identify as white (or black, or anything else based on your skin color)" you're a racist piece of garbage.

Which is what the person you're quoting is: a racist piece of garbage, and a hustler who wants to find stupid people and get them to give him money he hasn't earned.

n.n said...

Have you considered that, if you identify as human and read only the work of human authors...

Brilliant riposte.

Lazarus said...

Greeks are "white"? Who knew?

In the early years of the last century, there were anti-Greek riots in Omaha, Salt Lake City, Toronto, Virginia and Nevada.

The Cracker Emcee Refulgent said...

There just aren’t many good POC authors. Richard Wright, a handful of Muzzies, that Chinese dude. Very few women of any color. Like dentistry and submarine warfare, this just seems to be an area where White men have more natural ability.

The Cracker Emcee Refulgent said...

But then I doubt that SJWs and virulent racists are doing much serious reading.

Caligula said...

The obvious response is that the content of my bookshelves is none of your business, and why did you think it was again?

But one wonders what the end game is here: public bonfires, and the denouncement of "degenerate" authors?

Temujin said...

"What kind of a jackass decides to read anything based upon the race of the author(s) ?"

Deans and professors of English at major universities. So, let's start there.

Quaestor said...

Social justice warriors decolonizing their bookshelves.

Jim at said...

Boy, it seems all that 'content of character' stuff was just a bunch of bullshit to the left.

Richard Dolan said...

"Have you considered that, if you identify as [X] and read only the work of [X] authors, you are in some ways listening to an extension of your own voice on repeat?"

In its way, that's a succinct statement of intersectional identity politics, both in abstracting one or more characteristics about a person to define his essential nature and in negating the notion that anyone has an 'essential nature' defined by characteristics that are immutable. You can choose to identify yourself however you want, whenever you want -- it's all just social constructs, so construct away. The very idea of objective reality is just an oppressive mechanism imposed by white men to keep you down, even if (just for fun) you are identifying as a white man today.

Wince said...

"Your Bookshelf May Be Part Of The Problem"

All those Zoom videos posed in front of bookshelves judged on Room Rater.

Up next, comrade: The Books You Read Rater.

buwaya said...

I have Naipaul (a lot of Naipaul) on the bookshelves, or rather in boxes intended for the bookshelves. I suspect that he's not the sort of non-white person they mean, here.

Cortes (if you mean Hernan Cortes, conqeror of Mexico) was not at Lepanto (1571). He died 24 years earlier (1547). He was however along for the ride in Charles V's ill-fated expedition to Algiers (1541).

Spanish/Hispanic lit is not "messed up" on the whole. It is not all dreamy head-games. The modern Anglo taste in Hispanic lit likes that stuff so you get that translated and marketed to you. Don Quixote is quite tame as picaresque novels go. It is a gentle, sentimental thing, compared to "Candide" or "Simplicissimus". Though of course "Candide" is in the way of being a satire of the picaresque.

I am entering a rats maze in this, but let me leave it at that there is a "Hispanosphere" with a massive literary patrimony, very little of which is available (or easily available) in English.

Birkel said...

I have considered the idea that the author is a fucking racist.
Fuck that author, in particular.

The racism of the Leftist Collectivists is inherent.
Have you noticed, Althouse?

Leora said...

Part of the point of reading is to understand people who are not you and to add their knowledge and thoughts to your own. For example, Richard Wright's depiction of the Chicago Communists helped inoculate me against leftists in the 60's. I am always amazed at people who claim black people are invisible in American literature with Huckleberry Finn's Jim, Uncle Tom, the dead Negro Jazz musician in Tender is the Night, Queegqueeg, the black stewards in the Caine Mutiny all leaping out at them if they actually read the works of the white authors and not even starting on Wright, Ellison and Baldwin.

Lurker21 said...

Is it better to see the person in the book as a mysterious other with an entire subjective world inside that will be revealed to you? Or is it better to see that character as always essentially you, showing you that we are all the same?

You don't want to be the person who reads every book and thinks "That is so me! I am exactly like that!" but if you are really encountering the character, don't you identify with that character in some sense?

A bunch of idiot college kids are in an old house and approaching a door. Chances are you aren't going to think you are like those kids or they are like you, but don't you in some sense feel the fear that they feel in approaching the door? David Copperfield: you know he's marrying the wrong woman because you see him from the outside, but don't you in some sense come to understand what he's feeling about the woman he does pick, because you understand his subjective world? Inner worlds being as hidden as they are, isn't the big jump between knowing nothing about them to having an understanding of them, rather the impossible or undesirable leap to seeing someone's subjective world exactly as they see it themselves?

In other words, you can read professionally, analyzing everything from the outside, or you can read amateurly, identifying with the character, but if you are reading effectively, aren't you doing both? Doesn't entering into a character's inner world always imply or result in something like identification? Empathy, feeling with -- it's not a simplistic identification of oneself with someone else, but doesn't it require or result in a degree of identification nonetheless?

"We are all the same" is a tricky concept. Obviously we aren't all the same. But we can see elements in other people that we also see in ourselves. Maybe what should really be said is something like, "I feel that, too," or "that is in me as well."

William said...

The Germans, in the person of Gutenberg, invented printed books. All these books on bookshelves are the cultural appropriation of a German invention. Hitler was quite right to burn all those foreign books.

William said...

Facts are the hobgoblins of little minds. There was some conquistador present at the Battle of Lepanto with Cervantes. All those conquistadores looked alike. They're pretty much interchangeable.... There's a rumor on Wiki that Disney was Irish. I like to think of him as being of Spanish descent. (The closest European relatives of the Irish are not the Scots, but the Iberian Celts. So make him Spanish for the purpose of this thesis.) Anyway, if he is of Spanish descent that would make him the most influential ethnic Spaniard in American history. Disney's body of work shows him to be a surrealist, but of the most benign and accessible kind. Dali for the masses.....It does seem that Spanish literature is blessed with a lot of weirdness. I guess it's a feature and not a bug, but Disney is the one who showed how to incorporate surrealism into everyday life.

narciso said...

tenochticlan, happened 50 years before lepanto, so I don't think so, as to some fiction I've mentioned volpi's in search of klingsor, in the past, would a european writer have come up with a triangular romance set in the german nuclear program, then there's secret history of costaguana, a picaresque revision of conrad's nostromo, by a colombian author, now I've read some of mahfouz, and souief and alaswani, the last two aren't anywhere my political viewpoint,

Michael said...

Buwaya
Don’t believe they mean Latin American or Spanish language literature.There is no African American Borges or Cervantes. No Fuentes. No Unamuno, Vargas or Marquez. Not even an Allende.

Narayanan said...

Bible has a great statement on Identity - I Am that I Am

I Am that I Am is the common English translation (JPS among others) of the response God used in the Hebrew Bible when Moses asked for his name (Exodus 3:14). It is one of the most famous verses in the Torah.

Narayanan said...

I am keenly interested in seeing a blog discussion with / for those identifying as Americans - your thoughts if you please

A New Textbook of Americanism: The Politics of Ayn Rand

Featuring never before released material from Ayn Rand... about politics!

Most people have no idea what the United States represents. Ayn Rand did grasp America’s political essence down to its roots. ..

Rand once called the United States “the only moral country in the history of the world.” A New Textbook of Americanism explores the reasons for her judgment.

William said...

Saul Bellow said words to the effect that if the Watusi produced a Tolstoy, he would start reading Watusi writers....It's long past time for Bellow's Nobel Prize to be rescinded. In an ideal world, his bones would be dug up and burned. Maybe they could mount his skull on a pike and mount it in front of the Library of Congress. Teach those other writers what's up. When Marie Antoinette saw one of her friend's head paraded on a pike before her, she became woke and aware of the will of the people....I once read a book by Isabel Allende. I don't remember much about it. I think if you took out the magic realism and the leftist filler, it was something like a Harlequin Romance, but, as noted, I don't remember much about it....Spanish language writers are not underrepresented on the bookshelves. There are a lot of first rate ones. Rigoberta Menchu Tum is an example of how inventive and creative Hispanic writers can be when writing about their history. It wasn't bullshit. It was magical realism.

Christy said...

I'm so confused! Currently I'm bouncing between a series written by a famously lesbian writer and an urban fantasy series. Then I fall asleep listening to Ovid. I'm neither gay, magical, nor messing around with Greek gods. How much further outside my lived experience is this hillbilly girl supposed to go?

The Godfather said...

Terrific discussion! I often "identify" with a character in a novel, even if I'm nothing like that character. I'm asking myself, What would I do or feel if I were in that situation? If I can't imagine that, then to some degree the novel is a failure for me, or by me.

This has nothing to do with how I respond to a work of non-fiction. I really don't give a sh*t about the race of the author.

PresbyPoet said...

"Hal Clement" wrote a novel called "Mission of Gravity" in 1954. The hero of the book is named Barlennan. "He" is a 15" long alien creature with 36 legs, on a giant planet called Mesklin. It rains methane on Mesklin, with gravity many times greater than Earth. I identified with this character on first reading this book half a century ago.

It is a great story. A good writer takes us to a place we can never go, and to meet "people". I still have the book. It is filed under C in my collection of science fiction, next to "Needle" and "Close to Critical", both by Clement.

ken in tx said...

I had a relative, passed now, who criticized people she didn't like by saying, "He thinks he's the Great I AM."