BOOKS OF WONDER

I really loved many Americans I met, and yet in the end rather hated the disconnected swamp of America. Perhaps it was just such a rigid girl, with the check list of what deserved her love or loyalty, ‘the only way to do it’, but perhaps as with us all, so many seemed so lost and alone. Swept up in the size of it, and the ruthlessness of the machine, and crying out for greater depth. High school lock downs, maniacs on campus, disconnected malls, the brutal realities of city life, the great American dream. The sense of an immigrant consciousness, far more real than in Britain, understandably keen to leave European experiences behind, in a great modern act of forgetting and getting on. You could do with talking to more Europeans, but where is America now, though? The mid-west, New York, Washington, San Fran, Seattle, Texas? It was always my private joke that there’s a crack right down the middle of the Liberty Bell and always was, but when I visited, the War on Terror had turned that museum into an anti-room at Langley. A thing to see too, with little sense of history. But one place I won’t forget in New York is the shining little Aladin’s Cave of literature, Books of Wonder, the place the owner said to me ‘here comes trouble’. The trouble wasn’t me, it was a publisher over the street, and a heart torn every which way but loose. In their lock down, and defence of ‘rights’ and ‘proprierties’ over the really human, they threw all the wonder away, and tipped out the baby with the bath water. The story is the saddest one I’ve ever heard, and I was involved!

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