By on August 4th, 2020

 

 

Vertical cut from a news column, August 3, 2020, 7News.au

 

Witch’s Brew

Trump’s Effect on My Reading Habits

 

 

George Saunders published CivilWarLand in Bad Decline in 1966. My world should have shook (I was Californian, so not a reach) but I didn’t even hear whisper of it. For decades. When I read the book I went and read five or six others. Here was a voice that tolled inside me like a bell made of heart muscle.

 

 

He got how off-kilter the world of humans is. How hilarious and sad, how un-said. Let others swoon over Hilary Mantel, George Saunders became my favorite living author.

 

 

I tell you this because I’m dismayed to find that something’s changed. In a funk I pulled out a couple of George Saunders’ books. Always good to read. Foundational as they say. Underpinning.

 

 

There are trolls in my bookcase. Or maybe in my head. George Saunders isn’t funny anymore. Wry doesn’t connect to any part I recognize.

 

 

I think of the news photo of a frenzied mob outside a subway car, faces shrieking invective at the Covid-masked faces within. Blond woman leading the pack at full bay. I remember the newspaper checked with several zombie movie directors who wished they could get that shot in their films.

 

 

Some newswriter noted these were the same people who, when seat-belts were mandated broke their vocal cords demanding their right to be smashed across their windshields. I was driving by then. I lived through the same experience and don’t actually remember it. Seatbelts were weird for awhile and then life rolled like a gentle wave over sand and life erased my noticing. I don’t think about brushing my teeth either but someone must be doing it.

 

 

A man yesterday shot at police with an automatic rifle because he didn’t want to wear a Covid-mask. Obviously he wasn’t black or he’d be dead.

 

 

Ever since Donald Trump aimed his belly at the podium on January 20, 2017 hate-hearted bipeds have been oozing like water through pebbles into my county’s psyche. They really do throw their passions at astonishing targets. They’re damned if you can make them wear Covid-masks. Actually you’re damned if you do. And if their leader scoffs at cataclysmic viruses, they’re ready and armed.

 

 

Is it any wonder that George Saunders rings all too true? Hey mister, your bent world is in my government, gnawing at the floorboards.

 

 

Gnawing on my brain.

 

 

 

 

 

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Rob
Rob
3 months ago

Someone (who? Oscar Wilde? Phillip Roth?) said these days fiction can’t keep up with reality.