Book Club for the New Administration – October 2017

Happy October, everyone!  Or, as I like to say, “Holy crap, it’s October!”  Despite the fact it happens the same time each year, I really didn’t see this one coming.  So, you’re thinking, she’s not ready with another book, is she?  Oh, dear reader, it’s funnier than that.  She didn’t read the last one!

Ugh.  It’s not really funny at all.  Do you remember last month when I said we should show Texas some post-Harvey love and order our books from a store in Texas?  I did just that, a month ago today.  Well, turns out Harvey is not a fan of books.  Despite the fact that the amazing Brazos Books had their doors open within a few days of the storm, they have not been getting their shipments of new books in all that swiftly.  I can only imagine regional warehouses were inundated by the flood, trucks were rerouted, computers fouled up.  The long and the short of it is, my copy of Rebecca Solnit’s timely book is in the wind (or the mail, depending on who you ask).  After following up with the bookstore, I decided to stick it out and wait for it.  So, I will have more to say on it hopefully next month.

Did any of you get a hold of the book?  What did you think?  In light of Hurricane Maria’s devastation of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands (along with the rest of the Caribbean), and the headlines about our government’s slow response, I wonder how the citizens are responding to each other and fending for themselves.  This lack of response/slow response is equal parts understandable and unnecessary:

If these had been earthquakes instead of storms, we wouldn’t have seen them coming.  In the case of Mexico, those two massive earthquakes could only be planned for in the long term with supporting infrastructure, and on an immediate smaller scale like earthquake preparedness kits.  An early warning system exists, but not widely in use in the US as of yet.  (And early means minutes, not hours or days.)

The very nature of a hurricane means we can literally position a response outside of the reach of the storm, and come in as it passes.  Would that be expensive?  Probably.  Still dangerous?  Likely.  What each of us would hope and pray our government was prepared to do if our lives were in the balance?  Absolutely.

My mother sheltered in place during Katrina.  On the news, the word went out that helpers were going door to door to assist evacuations.  No one came.  If we had not found our own way to help, she would have been on her own.  As the news comes in, I think of this daily.  So many deaths happen in the wake of a disaster, and recover takes decades, not a weekly newscycle.  Or, in the case of this current climate where a newscycle lasts about four hours before the next big story, recovery will take a relative lifetime.

If you are able to help, here is a link to Charity Navigator, a charitable organization that has a rather startlingly long list of disasters and charities poised to help them with your donations.  (The above link is for Hurricane Harvey, but you can find a list of other causes on the left sidebar, or by doing a search.)  Business Insider also lists local charities for the latest hurricanes.

I’d love to hear from you on A Paradise Built in Hell.  I don’t even mind spoilers!  Just tweet me using #BookClub4NewAdmin and we’ll discuss!

So, on to OCTOBER!!!!

The Book Club for the New Administration selection for October is:

Synopsis:  Right-wing groups like the Proud Boys say they have no tolerance for racism or white supremacist groups. Their leader Gavin McInnes disavowed the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville. But the Proud Boys believe “the West is the best,” which, one of them points out, is not such a big jump from “whites are best.” And one of the Proud Boys organized the Charlottesville rally. (The group now claims he was a spy.) What should we make of groups like this?

So, it’s not a book, it’s a podcast from This American Life  that aired on September 22nd.  (Direct link here.  Transcript here.)  But bear with me.  There is a book component, too.  Toward the end of Act Two, Producer Robyn Semien has interviews a man named Jason Kessler– the organizer of the Charlottesville alt-right rally in August that cost the life of counter-protester Heather Heyer.  When asked to explain how he got involved in the white rights movement, Kessler’s response is illuminating, to me at any rate.  He feels America was traditionally a white country and it is being taken away from white men.  He specifically cites a job he wanted that was given to a woman instead, with different qualification.

Now, entitlement seems to be a common mindset in our culture.  Certainly we are entitled to our own opinions, and also to human rights.  But what struck me about the above interview was how much it sounds like a child in fear of the new baby, and how their place in the family structure will change– possibly suffer– because of the new addition.  It put Kessler’s argument in a new light for me because this is a situation almost everyone is familiar with, and it’s played out in so many families that there are solutions that have been tested time and again.
And so, the book component of October’s selection is :
Synopsis:  Darcy and Gran are not happy about the idea of a new baby coming, but they change their minds after the birth.
Unfortunately, Cutler’s book is out of print and might be hard to find.  So I’m not naming a store to buy it.  Instead, contact your local used bookstore (they need our love, too!) or track it down on the internet.  Abebooks.com and Alibris.com are good resources for hard-to-find titles.  Whether you read Cutler’s book or any other book about the fears of a child over a new family member, try to look at it from a sociopolitical point of view.  What can these dynamics teach us about the adult world?  How can we learn to speak to each other in a way that is kind and willing to listen as well as be heard?
Until next month!