Saturday, November 19, 2016

escaping into fiction

In the late 50's I spent most after school hours in the public library waiting for my father to pick me up on his way home from work. I wore out the children's library in short order and haunted the upstairs, adult stacks where there many places to hide with whatever books I could reach.

I was in third grade when I read John Hershey's “Hiroshima”. I remember taking it to the desk and asking the librarian if it was a true story. Alarmed, she asked, “Have you read it yet?” I knew I was probably in trouble, but I had to answer true. She looked at me sadly and said, “Yes, I'm sorry to say it really happened.”

Not long after,  I was sent home from school for refusing to participate in the duck and cover exercises that were supposed to save us in the event of an atomic bomb attack. I told anyone who would listen that the wall of windows and bricks in our classroom would bury and burn us alive and we'd all be dead of radioactive rain and we'd never see our families again because they would all be burned and buried in our houses. My mother was called to school. I would not be budged. Thenceforth, if drills were planned, I would spend the time in the principal's office, filled with dread for my friends who were buying into this sham.

That knot of dread flared in me again after the election results became clear.

I came to WUUCON with 220 thousand words worth of bread and circuses, which I will finish. Thanks to Donald Maass, I left with the hard kernel of another book that will be one of the one hundred that could make a difference.