Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Take Back The Narrative (Ongoing Action)


This is an invitation to go out right now and BUY A BOOK!

The Waterdancer’s World by L. Timmel Duchamp http://www.aqueductpress.com/books/978-1-61976-109-4.php

The Obelisk Gate by N. K. Jemisin
http://nkjemisin.com/books/

When The World Wounds by Kiini Ibura Salaam
http://kiiniibura.com/books/when-the-world-wounds-coming-nov-1/

Everfair by Nisi Shawl
http://www.nisishawl.com/

Sleeping Under the Tree of Life by Sheree Renee Thomas
http://www.aqueductpress.com/books/978-1-61976-111-7.php

Buy these from the publishers and/or get them at a local bookstore or borrow them from a library.
This is also an invitation to support Independent Presses like Aqueduct Press (http://www.aqueductpress.com/) and Small Beer (http://smallbeerpress.com/) who always let us feast our minds! Buy any of their books. Right now!

Just so you know, I am speaking as someone who does live theatre in a film and video world and who believes in hard copies, pens, her NOOK, and pdfs. I don’t want to give up hugs for emoticons and like buttons, no matter how much love I lavish on my laptop.

In the weeks since the presidential election, I have spoken to many artists who worry that they are insignificant in these trying times. In the furor of the moment, we might forget that democracy requires citizens who understand the narratives of their nation, of the world.

The Hopi say: the one who tells the stories rules the world.

So WHY READ A BOOK?  A Reminder List—please add to it:

To sustain our spirits and challenge our thoughts
To delight in our humanity and commune with the folks we agree and disagree with
To have laugh out loud fun
To remember what we dare not forget
To engage in play
To time travel
To gain empathy
To imagine what we would never have imagined
To practice falling in love with a world we don’t yet inhabit
To engage in radical hope
To embrace the play of ideas
To banish despair
To practice being someone else and living in many skins
To spark insight
To focus and meditate and engage in slow thinking
To commune with the ancestors
To make that way out of no way

Reading a book is not the instant miracle that will dissolve horror with a click. Like theatre, reading a book is a rehearsal of the possible. Reading a book requires slow thinking. We will need slow thinking to meet the challenges of the next few years. So train up. READ A BOOK!

The marvelous Nalo Hopkinson recently encouraged a group of us (artists) to embrace the complexity of who we are in order to be ready for change. To do that in an age of sound bite/Twitter simplicity, we must find elegant modes to disrupt myopic, fast thinking. We must make slow thinking pleasurable. READ A BOOK! Go to a play or a concert! Focus on the work people are doing. Turn off the toxicity. 24-7 on that negative tip can be debilitating.

Reading neuroscience, I learn that our brains are set to amplify the bad, dangerous, awful things. The Internet can become a horror echo chamber, preying on our propensity to notice the negative, like the weather channel always featuring the mega-storms coming to devastate us. We can so easily lose perspective and flounder in a spectacularly awful moment, however—

Meanness does not have a mandate.

We are the flesh of our ancestors and of our great, great, great grandchildren. We are never alone in this difficult now. We make the world with our thoughts and our passions. Stories are sacred time machines connecting us to one another.

SO GO OUT AND BUY THESE BOOKS from the publishers or a local bookstore and spread the word! Boost the signal!

The Waterdancer’s World by L. Timmel Duchamp http://www.aqueductpress.com/books/978-1-61976-109-4.php

The Obelisk Gate by N. K. Jemisin
http://nkjemisin.com/books/ 

When The World Wounds by Kiini Ibura Salaam
http://kiiniibura.com/books/when-the-world-wounds-coming-nov-1/

Everfair by Nisi Shawl
http://www.nisishawl.com/

Sleeping Under the Tree of Life by Sheree Renee Thomas
http://www.aqueductpress.com/books/978-1-61976-111-7.php


3 comments:

Timmi Duchamp said...

Slow thinking, yes! I'm absolutely with you, Andrea, about how easily and painless one can slip into it just by reading a book. Granted, there are some books that I tear through without pausing for breath. But then there are the books that engage me deeply, making me stop every so often to mull or follow a train of thought something I've just read provokes me to follow. These are the books that I carry around in my head until I finish or put them aside, the books that create a new space in my head, often helping me to engage with the world in an altered way. I feel sure you're right about our need for reading and slow thinking. In the aftermath of the election, feeling as though I was stumbling through a swamp of aimless, constant distraction, I had the brilliant idea of taking Octavia Butler's Dawn off the shelf for a new read. Although it didn't actually cheer me up, it did have the effect of rebooting my brain, which had gotten glitched, so to speak, by a corrupted file. Which is to say, reading it helped me recover the wits I'd apparently lost so that I could return again to seeing the world sans the filter of the 24/7 news cycle.


I've just, by the way, finished reading Nisi Shawl's Everfair, which I absolutely loved. It's got multiple romances, women spies, sophisticated mind-blowing alternate history, a geek's-eyed inventive appreciation of cool technology, and heaping platters of hope seasoned with frequent reality checks--plus(!): a gorgeous lyrical style of prose that never overwhelms the stories she tells. Now that I've finished it and critical detachment has set in, I'm marveling at Nisi's skillful handling of so many different, interlocking characters confronting decades of constant change. (But what am I saying that reviewers of the book haven't already said?)

chaitraworldreadingseries said...

What a lovely book - 'Will Do Magic for Small Change'
Please read my review here: https://chaitraworldreadingseries.wordpress.com/2016/11/25/benin-will-do-magic-for-small-change/

Andrea Hairston said...

I read your review. Just what I needed as I work on my next book! I also appreciated your blog, exploring the world through books and reviewing one each month. What a great endeavor! I have bookmarked your page.