Is It Time for Liberals to Curl Up With a Good Book?

By Neal Comment

Over at the Huffington Post, Jennifer Nix talks about how four straight years of progressive activism against the neo-con machine and no fiction reading left “my soul… running on empty,” until Aleksandar Hemon‘s The Lazarus Projectresurrected my love of literature.” Mind you, it’s not as if she’s embracing escapist literature here:

“The book will sear into your mind the similar ways in which immigrants to America have been treated, then and now, in the wake of 9/11, Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib. Hemon quotes at several points from journalistic accounts of Averbuch’s death in 1908, on which the police and media collude to create a cover-up… Change a few words, and it could be just about any day on Fox News Channel… Swap ‘terrorist’ or ‘illegal alien’ for ‘anarchist’ and you’ve got today’s cable-news-fed hysteria toward any Muslim, Mexican or other dark-skinned immigrant—or citizen—in America today.”

“Let’s start telling each other about other works of literature that rock our worlds,” Nix exhorts. “Perhaps progressive blogs could start featuring some short stories and discussing more novels—old and new—to better remember our past, and to nurture and cherish existing and emerging artistic talent. Let’s resurrect, and grow the audience for serious literature again…” Wait, isn’t that what the book blogs are supposed to be for, if the newspapers can’t get their act together? I kid because I love: While there are times when it’s convenient to have conversations bracketed off into purely literary realms, in most respects I think we could agree that there’s a false dichotomy between “the books we love” and “the rest of our lives.” And anything that keeps reading in the frame and fabric of American life has got to be okay with those of us in the publishing industry, right?