Say what you will about his recent fictional output (or his older fictional output, for that matter), I still have a soft spot for Kurt Vonnegut. At the age of 80, he’s still saying things worth listening to.
And he’s not an asshole, which still counts for something, I hope.
I myself feel that our country, for whose Constitution I fought in a just war, might as well have been invaded by Martians and body snatchers. Sometimes I wish it had been. What has happened, though, is that it has been taken over by means of the sleaziest, low-comedy, Keystone Cops-style coup d’etat imaginable. And those now in charge of the federal government are upper-crust C-students who know no history or geography, plus not-so-closeted white supremacists, aka ‘Christians,’ and plus, most frighteningly, psychopathic personalities, or ‘PPs.’
What has allowed so many PPs to rise so high in corporations, and now in government, is that they are so decisive. Unlike normal people, they are never filled with doubts, for the simple reason that they cannot care what happens next. Simply can’t. Do this! Do that! Mobilize the reserves! Privatize the public schools! Attack Iraq! Cut health care! Tap everybody’s telephone! Cut taxes on the rich! Build a trillion-dollar missile shield! f–k habeas corpus and the Sierra Club and In These Times, and kiss my ass!
While we’re talking authors here, another writer whose work I’ve always enjoyed reading, Gunter Grass, is also speaking out against those murderous C students and psychopaths in Washington.
Edit : This is as good a time as any to share some statistics about Korea with you. I ran across these numbers a few days ago, and they would seem to explain much on first glance. Whether that is actually the case or not is up for debate.
There are a total of 450 public libraries in Korea. In the whole country.
These facilities serve a population of approximately 47 million people : it works out to about 110,000 people for each library, the lowest in the OECD. The ratio is actually worse here in Seoul – which is home to the equivalent of about a third of the population of Canada, a fact that never ceases to boggle me a bit – there’s one library for every 330,000 people.
The comparable figure in Europe is about 1:10,000 and in America it’s 1:20,000 or so.
Some ad-hocratic systems have arisen to compensate, as is always the case here. There are privately run shops, even in the nasty little suburb where I live, that rent a few books (mostly home-grown manga for the schoolkids) alongside the standard racks of action movies. There’s a bookmobile that comes around the human beehives once a week, too, with a couple of hundred Korean novels onboard. Small compensation for the few who have the time or energy to read anything.
As for me, even if any of these few libraries were near enough for me to visit, I’d be out of luck. None carry books in English, of course.
If any webblogger should have an Amazon wishlist and wheedle and beg for books, it’s me, by crikey. Maybe I should get a webcam, start peddling my wonderchicken pulchritude, and demand payments (“Put it on! Put it all back on! Please!”) in literature….