The Power of a Book

Today, 11-11-11, I reread John Hersey’s book Hiroshima (1946).

This is a book written long before films sported iconic mushroom clouds, a la Children of Men (2006), or bristled with pamphlet-perfect flash-‘n-blast, like the playground scene in Terminator 2 (1985). It’s a book from well before the “nuclear literature” that later became material for graduate-level fields—a book from before the Cold War or the years of post-Dr.-Strangelove sophistication.

This is a book of journalism, built from interviews with six persons who survived an unforeseen actuality in the moment when the Bomb and its effects had been unknown and were still inconceivable, entirely new.

Thus the presentation, moment by moment, of these survivors’ (and, in the writing, the author’s) confrontation with worsening, unimagined horrors can cut, even today, past our defenses.

It’s a good book to read when people in power talk about “taking out” Iran or Israel, Damascus or D.C. It’s a book that may have helped, if people in power opened and read it, in 1946, in 1962, yesterday.

A good book to read those hours one wonders if writing’s a waste of time.

Advertisements

Occupy 10 Things at Once, or Work and More Work

I used to think you had to be a working mother to go nuts from doing too much at once. This is, of course, false. Be a writer, editor, and politically conscious human being in the days of Occupy and political change!

At least, things better change. Don’t know about you, but I, like most authors, don’t make enough from my books to eat, pay housing costs, pay insurance costs, etc. And like most authors, even those of us who have publishers (after years of skimping and trying), I have to do most of the books’ p.r.

Okay, so where in this do we find time to edit or whateverthehellelse we do for a living?

Well, and now it’s time to Occupy. Hey, I am with you, guys! Folks, I’m out there on the line and in the great political arena with you, every night.

Except, it’s by “liking” you on Fb. It’s by naming a few of you here: Occupy Oakland, Occupy Mosier, Occupy Writers, occupy . . .

We need to Occupy. We need to make a society where resources and wealth, power and decisions, are more shared. We as writers need to end the control of communications by big corporations. We as people need to end domination of the many by a few.

Of course. And “But the laundry! But the dishes!” “First , I have to pay the bills” and all of that just keeps a vicious cycle going. We need for own sakes basically to make a better world. Then there are 9 other things, right this minute, to do.

What are your most urgent tasks to do? Is creating change among them? And when do you write?