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BAFABB, NEA and Ray Bradbury

October 2, 2007

Karen reminds me that it’s BAFAB week again. I entered her personal book drawing in exchange for a promise to give a book to someone else. Fun stuff. She also points out that it’s banned books week, too. That being the case, maybe it’s time to BAFABB.

Speaking of books, I got a nice surprise this morning when I stopped for coffee at Caribou. I walked in, Darlene greeted me by name and asked me if I wanted the usual: large dark roast with lots of room for cream. I said yes and tell her, in answer to today’s trivia question, that P. Diddy’s name at birth was Sean Combs. I don’t do it for the dime, I tell her with a wink; I do it for the glory. She laughs and fills me a cup. Then the surprise: “have a free book!” she says.

It’s then that I notice stacks of stuff on the counter: brochures, CDs and Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 in paperback. I pick up one of each. It feels like stealing. Who would give away something of actual value these days? Turns out it’s the National Endowment for the Arts. My tax dollars at work, promoting literacy and the first amendment. Sweet! Still fighting the sensation that I’m shoplifting, I take the stuff and leave.

In the car I examine the CD. It’s not an audiobook version of Fahrenheit 451 (how ironic would that be?), but rather an “introduction to” the novel produced by the NEA. I pop it in, thinking it will be an interesting departure from my usual public radio-fueled commute.

It is. There’s commentary by the president of the NEA, interviews of Bradbury himself and other writers, and there’s several snippets of an actor reading passages from Fahrenheit. It’s these that catch my attention first: “…the flapping pigeon-winged books died on the porch and lawn of the house. While the books went up in sparkling whirls and blew away on a wind turned dark with burning.” Sci-fi author or not, Bradbury was always much more poet than engineer.

The other thing that delights me on the CD is Ray Bradbury himself. With prose like his, it’s easy to imagine that he’s an elite artsy snob, but in actuality he comes across more like your average midwestern schlub. I guess that shouldn’t come as a big surprise, as he was born in Waukegan, Illinois, less than 90 minutes from where I live.

Anyway, BAFAB or BB, three cheers for the NEA, and here’s to not living in Bradbury’s dystopian future. It’s turned into quite a week for book celebrations.

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  1. Of all the major dystopic future books, 451’s world would blow the most. I actually think Brave New World sounded alright. I suppose Big Brother was pretty bad too if you’re into privacy.


  2. Scott, I worry that this…

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071004/ap_on_re_us/outsourcing_libraries

    …is a concerted move towards making some (perhaps a lot of) books less accessible.

    Privatization of our Libraries? We are supposed to trust these libraries for profit to keep books available to us? Even books that have no tie-in with the new fall lineup? They can put ten foot wide screens with commercials for Blackwater and Halliburton where the books that make you think used to go.

    This is some greedy local politicians grab for public resources, or maybe the local politicians are merely brokers for a big companies business deal.

    I can see it now “Coming soon to a library in your town, in fact to your preexisting library, ‘Clearchannel Library Deluxe 3000 inc.’” The libraries can be filled with books by Ann Coulter, Sean Hanity, Chris Matthews, Bill OReilly, Rush and a bunch of other creeps and there will never be enough shelf space for say Rowling, Bradbury, Al Franken or any author who has a habit of writing irreverently about authority, the status quo or even have an annoying habit of questioning if things could somehow be better than they currently are. And god forbid that an authors book might not be filled with right wing Christian values like women who know their place and always wear dresses and long skirts and get queasy at the thought of wearing slacks or doing anything that might make their men feel less manly, like wanting to use a condom, earning a paycheck, having an opposing view or “talking back” if you will.

    And for the children’s section there can be an amazing array of books, some about Jesus with a Tommygun in each hand punishing all the evildoers who talk gibberish with funny accents and usually just happen to have oil in their backyard, and others about how hybrid vehicles are, if you think about it kind of like genetic tampering of automobiles and therefore an affront to god. And more books still like ‘Turning in your neighbors for the good of the republic; for dummies’ it is going to be sweet.



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