Thursday, September 30, 2004

National Banned Book Week

National Banned Books Week started this Monday, and the obligatory list of recommended banned books can be found here. The 100 most challenged books of 1990-2000, which contains many books I enjoy, can be found here.

Many of the readers, the vast multitude of them there are, know that I have a dirty little secret. I play role-playing games. Given the PMRC's and BADD's attack against this hobby in the 1980s, nevermind the attacks against comics in the 50s, I would be remiss if I didn't have a post mentioning Banned Book Week.

The column which brought this subject to mind, oddly enough since it isn't about book banning at all, is Cathy Seipp's column at the National Review about Author Signatures. Just to give you an idea of how tangential my mind is, she mentions Lost in Place in the column. This got me to thinking about Iron and Silk which got me thinking of the movie of the same name. This in turn got me thinking of Kung Fu action, which brought to mind the D&D monk class and there you have it.

Of course, now that I have mentioned Lost in Place, I must discuss this wonderful novel. To give a hollywood pitch version of the novel, it is Karate Kid meets That 70s Show meets Less than Zero. Sound interesting? It is. This memoir felt so real to me. As I read the pages learning of Mark Salzman's love of kung fu movies and his slightly disaffected youth, I saw parallels into my own childhood. His mild sense of humor and ability to weave a tale are quite magnificent. Reading this book felt like having a conversation with an old friend about our childhood escapades. But the kicker in this book, the part that was most real, was the way it dealt with death. I read this book shortly after my mother died, and it (along with Lewis' A Grief Observed)let me know that I was not alone in my empty sunken feeling. As Lewis says, "No one ever told me that grief felt so much like fear." (quoting from memory so any error is my own). And Salzman shows a magnificent ability to focus his narrative eye on past sorrow. Immediately leave the house and buy this book!

Now, if only my interest in Martial Arts films led me to teach myself Mandarin or become as proficient in Kung Fu as Mr. Salzman. Well...then my plans to take over the world would be more successful than they currently are.

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