Sunday, December 16, 2007
Before (during, after) making his name as a novelist, George Orwell/Eric Blair was a book critic. The interesting thing, though, is that the books weren't what he was really concerned with. Orwell spared much discussion of the artistry of the authors, or lack thereof, his ink. Instead he used the books as vehicles to expound on his own political world view.
He was not well liked.
Few critics are, i suppose.
Maybe that's because all a critic really ought to say is, "Read it" or "Don't". To be sure, i'll get to that. But first, a comparison, with a political point of view.
If you read David Markson's The Last Novel (which will be the last of his that i read, incidentally) you are treated (subjected?) to a litany of criticism of the critcizers. You gotta love circular logic, the favorite type of logic for those stuck in the Victim Mentality. Misunderstood, tortured artists. Zionists. I have little use for this type of self-absorption, and i despise the fact that nations can use the victimhood of ancestors to justify neocolonial bloodlust.
i don't want to make more of Markson's book than need be. Neither do i want take away from the true subject of this review: Colson Whitehead's Apex Hides The Hurt, though the comparisons between the two books are worth some thought. They're both about how a people name their own destiny, to borrow from June Jordan. Will you march forward in the manner of your former oppressors, with tanks, guns and the assorted paraphernalia of war, or will you struggle, and succeed, to create a new kind freedom?
"You call something by a name, you fix it in place. A thing, or a person, it didn't matter--the name you gave it allowed you to draw a bead, take aim, shoot. But there was a flip side of calling something by the name you gave it--and that was wanting to be called by the name you gave yourself. What is the name that will give me the dignity and respect that is my right? The key that will unlock the world.
"Before colored, slave. Before slave, free. And always somewhere, ni**er.
"What was next? In the great procession. Because things never remain still for long. What will we call ourselves next, he wondered. If he knew what was next, he'd know who he would be."
As far as Apex goes, you should, most definately, Read it.