Monday, May 28, 2007
Sadly, I'm not in Kansas (City) anymore
For the first, and possibly the last time in my life, I wish I was in Kansas City so I could rescue these books. It's strange that this bookstore owner would set fire to books no one wants as a form of protest. When I lived in Iran in the 80s, I literally hunted books the way most kids my age were hunting for contraband American movies and music. I learned Farsi for the express reason of expanding my reading possibilities (oh, and not getting the life beat out of me for failing in school).
The strange thing is, I just read an article in the NY Times, about how literary reading has been going down in Iran, because the publishing industry is constantly under attack of new rules and restrictions. Sadly now, as when I was living there, one of the few and most popular books in regular supply are Danielle Steel novels (the first time I heard of Danielle Steel was in Iran, when a bookstore owner recommended her books as "very popular with young ladies"). It confused me then; and it confuses the hell out of me now. Of course, traditional Iranian poetry and literature is abundant and rich--but it is not enough. Unfortunately, from what I have seen, the younger generation doesn't read traditional literature because it's familiar and sometimes too rich. It seems there aren't many alternatives: Rumi and friends, or Ms. Steel.
So it seems once again there is an abundance of imbalance. Too many unwanted books in KC (for lack of interest) and too much lack of interest in Iran for dearth of books. Ideally, I'd like to go to KC, pack up the 20,000 unwanted books and give them a good home--my home. Or maybe if I'm very altruistic, a local prison. Hell, why not ship them to New Orleans and donate them to a library that was washed away there?
How bad can a trip to Kansas City be?