Sunday, September 25, 2005

sci-fi and civil rights.

Been having some trouble getting into anything lately. Keep starting books and gradually losing interest. I got a copy of Venus on the Half-Shell by Kilgore Trout, assuming it was a long lost Vonnegut joke, but found out that it was actually by Phillip Jose Farmer. I was a little disappointed when I heard this, but thought it was still a cool tribute, was glad someone actually published a Kilgore trout novel. Come to find out that it just sucks (in my humble opinion), I couldn't make it past the first few pages, it was kind of painful to read. Not the clever writing you would expect from Trout. I think if you're gonna do it, you should at least try to make it sound like the excerpts in Vonnegut books. It uses the paragraph that was in God Bless You Mr Rosewater (which I reread while traveling and man is it depressing), but that's about all. I guess I'm just saying it should sound like Vonnegut. I was going to keep it just because it's an old mass market that says Kilgore Trout on it and has a picture even, but now I'm not so sure.
The best book I've read lately is King, Malcom, Baldwin, a book of interviews by Kenneth B. Clark. It's from live television interviews from 1963 with Martin Luther King, Malcom X, and James Baldwin. Makes it very apparent how intelligent and commanding MLK and Malcom X were. The interview with Malcom X is just awesome, really powerful. Even though I like King's philosphy more than Malcom's, Malcom is just so convincing that it's easy to see why so many would get behind him. A hyperintellectual, very sure of what he believes, would be really hard to argue with. Clark gets fed up with him by the end, says "I'd like to talk to you some other time if you would tell me a little about what you think the future of the Negro in America is other than separation." The interview with James Baldwin was off the hook, emotional, all over the place. It got me to start reading Go Tell It On The Mountain, which I was really into at first, amazing writing that completely carried the book. I think I've given up in it for now, though, lost my interest at some point. Want to give some other Baldwin a try sometime, he's obviously an interesting guy, very smart, very troubled, seemed to have been torn in differnt directions his whole life.

"I'm terrified at the moral apathy, the death of heart, which is happening in my coutry. These people have deluded themselves for so long that they really don't think I'm human. I base this on their conduct, not on what they say, and this means that they have become in themselves moral monsters. It's a terrible indictment. I mean every word I say." -James Baldwin


Blogger duck said...

I've been kinda the same about getting in to stuff lately. Got a book by John Steinbeck's son Thomas which I thought was a novel but turned out to be a collection of short stories based on tales he heard as a kid in Salinas with his dad and all. First couple moved kind of slow and were a little distant, just couldn't connect really, but one i just started seems alright.
That King, Malcom, Baldwin sounds rad. I'm taking a African AMerican History class right now and totally looking foward to getting to malcom and all, since I missed out on that somewhere. Public School?

12:35 AM  
Blogger Josh said...

My friend Craig pointed out after reading this that Kilgore Trout was supposed to be a bad sc-fi writer, which is a good point.

12:48 AM  

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