Skip to main content

How Books Can Save Us

As we have now seen for millennia, literature can be the sane voice of reason at times when anxiety, fear, and panic threaten to lead us into actions we might someday regret.

I have great amounts of love for also known as middle grade fiction. This genre has a special knack for stating an idea both succinctly and clearly. 

The recent tragedy in France made me think of a specific middle grade book series: Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events. For those unfamiliar, it's semi-gothic, has a very particular and excellent prose style, and consists of 13 books, all about the three Baudelaire orphans.

The thing I remembered from the series is that in one of the later books, the Baudelaire siblings are met with a difficult decision: they can use underhanded tactics to capture one of the many villains out to get them, or...they can choose to not. Every. Other. Children's book I've read would have had no problem with them capturing a villain and using them as leverage to achieve their own ends, because obviously the protagonists' motives are purer than the dastardly villains', so we support what helps them win.

But the Baudelaires think this through. 

"We're not in a pleasant situation," Violet said, and the eldest Baudelaire was right. It was not pleasant... But the least pleasant part of the situation wasn't the cold dirt, or the freezing winds, or even their own exhaustion as it grew later and the children dug deeper and deeper. The least pleasant part was the idea, shared by the two Baudelaires and their new friend, that they might be doing a villainous thing. The siblings were not sure if digging a deep pit to trap someone, in order to trade prisoners with a villain, was something that their parents would do.... As they looked at the villainous thing they had made, the three volunteers could not help wondering if they were villains, too, and this was the least pleasant feeling in the world.

If we act like villains, then we are villains. I'm not saying these people should not be stopped. But if we respond by determining to wipe them out and declare war and essentially meet unspeakable violence with unspeakable violence, we're not heroes. We become what they are.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

How to Build a Girl Introductory Post, which is full of wonderful things you probably want to read

Acclaimed (in England mostly) lady Caitlin Moran has a novel coming out. A NOVEL. Where before she has primarily stuck to essays. Curious as we obviously were about this, I and a group of bloggers are having a READALONG of said novel, probably rife with spoilers (maybe they don't really matter for this book, though, so you should totally still read my posts). This is all hosted/cared for/lovingly nursed to health by Emily at As the Crowe Flies (and Reads) because she has a lovely fancy job at an actual bookshop ( Odyssey Books , where you can in fact pre-order this book and then feel delightful about yourself for helping an independent store). Emily and I have negotiated the wonders of Sri Lankan cuisine and wandered the Javits Center together. Would that I could drink with her more often than I have. I feel like we could get to this point, Emily INTRODUCTION-wise (I might've tipped back a little something this evening, thus the constant asides), I am Alice. I enjoy

Harry Potter 2013 Readalong Signup Post of Amazingness and Jollity

Okay, people. Here it is. Where you sign up to read the entire Harry Potter series (or to reminisce fondly), starting January 2013, assuming we all survive the Mayan apocalypse. I don't think I'm even going to get to Tina and Bette's reunion on The L Word until after Christmas, so here's hopin'. You guys know how this works. Sign up if you want to. If you're new to the blog, know that we are mostly not going to take this seriously. And when we do take it seriously, it's going to be all Monty Python quotes when we disagree on something like the other person's opinion on Draco Malfoy. So be prepared for your parents being likened to hamsters. If you want to write lengthy, heartfelt essays, that is SWELL. But this is maybe not the readalong for you. It's gonna be more posts with this sort of thing: We're starting Sorceror's/Philosopher's Stone January 4th. Posts will be on Fridays. The first post will be some sort of hilar

Book Blogger Hop, Pt II

All right. The question for this week is:  "Do you read only one book at a time, or do you have several going at once?" Oh-ho my. I have an issue with book commitment. I start a new book, and it's exciting and fresh, and I get really jazzed about it, and then 20% of the way through, almost without fail, I start getting bored and want to start another book. I once had seven books going at the same time, because I kept getting bored and starting new ones. It's a sickness. Right now I'm being pretty good and working on The Monk , Northanger Abbey , Kissing the Witch , and I'm about to start Waiting for the Barbarians since my friend lent it to me. But The Monk and NA are basically books I only read when I'm at work, so I don't see it so much as working on four books, as having books in different locales. Yes. This entry wasn't as good as some of the others, but I shall rally on the morrow. Yes I shall.