Sunday, March 20, 2005

Brian notes Sara Paretsky for Women's History Month

Brian: I would like to note the novelist Sara Paretsky who writes mystery novels. She's famous for the character V.I. Warshawski and her latest novel is out in paperback and called Blacklist.

I think she is a powerful writer and that she comments on the world around us in her novels. The characters have voices that are often not heard in a lot of books by other writers.

I also think she is a strong voice the community should be aware of.

On September 21, 2003 she wrote an op-ed for The Chicago Tribune that's called "For Those Who Wish to dissent: Speech, Silence and Patriotism."

I grew up in Kansas during the shadow of the Cold War, when religion and patriotism were conflated and we attended daylong revivals of religion and daylong lectures on patriotism. The local paper pilloried my parents for questioning the revivals, printing their phone number and urging readers to call them-- which happened for some months, usually in the middle of the night. A popular high school teacher had to resign because he was doing a PhD in Russian history--and only a communist would study Russia. In the larger society, Martin Luther King Jr. was hounded with lies claiming he was a communist, and Dashiell Hammett, who wrote "The Maltese Falcon," spent six months in prison for refusing to name names to the infamous House Un-American Activities Committee. Hammett's publishers even bowed to pressure from the House and briefly took his books out of print.
These days, the chill-silencing winds of my childhood are starting to blow at gale force again. I am a frightened citizen right now, more scared than I've been since the first few weeks after Sept. 11, 2001.
The situation in post-war Iraq seems to be creating, not eliminating, new sources of terror, while the nation's worst blackout on Aug. 14 shows how vulnerable we are. And Ashcroft's response is to say that any questions about his policies, any questions about governmental lies, secrets or silences, is tantamount to treason.

I'll point out one more time that she wrote this back on September 21, 2003. I think she's a brave voice and I enjoy her books. If anyone hasn't read Blacklist yet, I would recommend it.