I read 14 books in March, and have already written about 13 of them. [My book write-ups from March are HERE and HERE and HERE.] I’ll get to number fourteen in a paragraph or two. March had one brilliant five-star read and four gorgeous to frustratingly confounding four-star reads, so, all in all, lots to celebrate — including having survived he who shall not be named’s tireless and relentlessly, defiantly ignorant efforts to initiate nuclear winter; alas, we have not managed to avoid becoming the laughing-stock of the world, branded with the Scarlet A for assholes who elected this moron/bully/idiot/bigot. I didn’t vote for him. Just want that on record. Over and over. But, back to the thing I use to distract me from the seeming shit-show that is our reality right now (**more about this later in the post — or, rather, more about how I am surviving it); READING!
My fourteenth and final March read was at a disadvantage since I was suffering a book-love hangover from The Beast Is An Animal, my five-star amazement for the month [read what I wrote about it here]. I started and gave up on two books after The Beast Is An Animal, and was then recovered enough to finish this next one; but I am not sure I wasn’t still suffering the “well, it’s NOT The Beast Is An Animal” syndrome.
The Lost Book Of The Grail, Charlie Lovett, Hardcover, 336pp, February 2017, Viking
I’m a geekish fan of novels to do with books, Britain, and Arthurian Legends, so when I saw this novel on the New Releases shelf in the library, I grabbed it, grasping at the hope it would be the hat trick to cure my Beast hangover. Hmmm.
While I didn’t hate it, I was never really engaged by any of the stories from any of the many time periods in which the author put together the puzzle of the tale. I found the jumps in time somewhat confusing and difficult to follow, and, in particular, I found the modern-time plot line was so removed from the gothic-legend-located stories from the past, that the juxtapositioning and jumping was jarring. And the present day characters didn’t feel real to me, rather, they were somewhat stock: nerdy librarian, brilliant and beautiful love interest more emotionally mature than the protagonist, teaching him about love. It just didn’t work for me.
AND MARCH EXITS . . .
What a month. One day it was seventy degrees and the next we got the first actual, measurable snow of the winter. Which was almost spring. The time changed, but somehow time springing forward while the men in power seem determined to move it backward in such ugly, immoral ways, removing protections for the environment, the consumer, women, people of color, LGBTQ, and … well, you know the horrors being perpetrated by the fascistic cabal of hetero-privileged-wealthy white men making a last, desperate, fear-based, hateful grab for control of all the wealth in the world they don’t already have so as to continue the exploitation and domination of anyone not them.
**But I am not going to live in fear or panic. I spent much of the 1980s ruled by dread, dismay, and despair, because my friends were dying of AIDS and the government — much of the country — seemed almost gleeful to do nothing while we “not like them” suffered and died. It was a horrible time where much of what is worst about humanity was on display, in charge, and cruelly banging the drumbeat of fear of other as a means to power, a distraction used to hide their power and wealth grabbing. And, it seems, the same sort of thing is happening again.
However, having been through it once and taken to the streets in furious protest — which definitely has its place and purpose — I also have perspective enough to look back and see, now, in retrospect, that the tragedy of those times also brought out much of what is best about humanity. It was the outcry of dissent and the howl of our demands for equity and freedom to exist as ourselves, without shame or oppression, that gave birth to the energy of love and affirmation which brought us the rights and the world these new dictators and persecutors are so determined to destroy.
They can’t. It doesn’t work. Hate and obstruction and despotism never win. They can’t. Because it’s not who we are. It is not who anyone is. Even those promulgating this sorrowful agenda of fearful animosity and loathing for others are — at their centers — made of the same Love and Light as we who love and affirm and embrace.
I am not making excuses for their actions. I do not accept their ignorance and continue to resist it, but, dear ones, this: if we answer them with hate, the same fearful awful malignancy of misguided animus driving them, then we never reach peace. From the ashes of the AIDS crisis — from the losses of which a part of me will never recover — rose victories of hope, passionate commitments to freedom and visibility and inclusion.
I believe — and believe we must believe — that while our resistance and objections and marching and vociferous, resounding outcry are absolutely necessary, we must do it all from a place of Love and Light; that we must not allow them to win by descending to the same sort of vitriol and assumption of evil in which they are drowning.
We are better than that. They are better than that. And in order for Love and Light to win, someone has to insist on it. We win by not losing ourselves to hate. We win by welcoming them to love, always, even as we block and repair the damage they want to do.
We live out loud and comfort and love one another and we have FAITH, which, to me, is not about a god, but about humanity; a belief that we are all — no matter how rotten and rancid and offensive we may appear to be — are, at our cores, made of the same Love and Light.
We get there by believing. We get there by faith. We get there by daily saying to ourselves, “Not perfect, not ideal, not even some days much fun, but, here we are, going.”
Love you people, truly.