I've been thinking too much about the place of politics in fiction and poetry. Yesterday, I put L. Frank Baum's birthday on the history sandwich board outside the store. A very polite, older-than-me white man had to point out that Baum advocated the complete destruction of the American Indian. Several useless retorts came to mind --
"Yeah, Baum and everyone else in his era"
"Did you know the Nazis based their last solution to the 'Jewish problem' on America's solution to the 'Indian Problem'?"
"Well, Ezra Pound was a facist. But he was still a poet! Na. Na. Na."
I said none of the above. I talked a little about Baum's socialism. I talked the Wizard of Oz, how it spoke to the human need for dreams. My polite visitor nodded his head and left the store. I'm sure, though, that he'll never let his grandchildren read that evil man.
Recently, I picked up Adrian McKinty's debut novel Orange Rhymes with Everything. As far as I can see, he's living in Denver. One of my goals as the owner of Miss Prothero's Books is to catch up on as many of the locals as possible. Anyway...It's a debut novel about the Protestant side of "The Troubles" in Northern Ireland. I haven't quite found the politics yet, but I keep waiting for them. I'm ashamed of myself. I should be waiting for the story.
How do you read a book? Do you let the book flaps and the critics make your decision? Do you look for the politics? How can you not help looking for the politics?