What You Know

Dear J-

I’m reading books — two or three a week, assuming I have the energy to stay awake on the train — and the latest one is Treasure Box from Orson Scott Card, who I honestly haven’t read much of since the various controversies about his (lack of) support for gay people around the release of the Ender’s Game movie. I did like that novel quite a lot, as well as the others in the series (up to Xenocide at the time) and I remember his Maps in a Mirror quite well, which I checked out as an undergraduate between freshman and sophomore years from the city public library keeping me sane in the hot nights at Casa Z.

Treasure Box opens with a right-to-life portrait of parents having to make that terrible choice for their daughter, brain-dead and on life support and the younger brother fighting them for it with the same kind of screechy diatribe reserved for the most ardent Terri Schiavo ventilator boosters; it’s a memorable first impression and it’s colored my perception of the protagonist, Quentin Fears, to the point where I can’t separate that initial picture of him — rigid, inflexible, uncompromising — with the adult he becomes soon thereafter. There are many impossibles in the world, but we are who we are through the experiences we’ve had to what we’ve become.

Now that I know more about the author — the Internet being the great and terrible thing that it is — I wonder how much the politics of the author can be separated from the characters, or how much of it is my assumption; it’s not to say that you can’t write with authority of people with beliefs so different from yours, but I’ve always thought there must be some sympathy in your views. You write what you know, that’s the first lesson I learned from Prof. Ogden in Dramatic Arts, and that observation is inescapable; your knowledge and experiences are some sort of gravitational well that distorts your perception of the fabric of reality.

Mike

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