Don’t Stop Believing

1. Well, my Sopranos predictions didn’t come true, but I wasn’t too far off on most points. I loved the fade-out ending, which is of course the classic The Lady or the Tiger ending as originated by short story writer Frank R. Stockton. The tense final episode also gave us another “Yeets” (Yeats) recitation by the fitful and hilarious young A. J. Soprano, and we were also treated to a few verses of Bob Dylan’s “It’s Alright Ma, I’m Only Bleeding” before A. J.’s CD player melted and his S.U.V. blew up.

Overall, this finale was worthy of the best moments of the series. And Paulie had the best line in the whole show: “Dey can take 2007 and give it back ta da Indians”.

2. So, who the hell had the scoop on the Clark Institute’s attempts to strike a revealing book from the Met’s bookshop? Well, I’m glad the Metropolitan Museum of Art bookstore is now stocking The Clarks of Cooperstown by Nicholas Fox Weber, and I think it’s great how an organization’s attempt at silencing an art historian backfired so publicly in this case.

Which is why I have to say that Ron Hogan totally misses the point when he defends the Met’s bookshop’s original decision not to stock the book . Ron says:

I’m not inclined to see a bookstore’s refusal to stock an individual title as an act of censorship. I have a very narrow view of what constitutes a genuine First Amendment violation, and a bookstore’s seeing fit not to stock a given book just doesn’t meet my standard.

I agree with Ron that this is not a case of censorship or constitutional rights, and as far as I know nobody has suggested threatening the Met bookshop with criminal charges or litigation. But any book lover will be offended at the idea of a wealthy family estate or endowed organization placing pressure on a store not to sell or promote a highly reputatable (published by Knopf, in this case) non-fiction book. And I don’t know why Ron, a book lover, doesn’t think readers and customers have a right to be offended by this, and to make a lot of noise when it happens.

It’s not a legal issue, Ron, but it is an ethical issue. Anyway, the protest was successful, and wasn’t it nice to see blogs and newspapers working together to blow up a story?

3. A San Francisco revery by Ed Champion. San Francisco has got to be a hard city to leave.

4. An interview with the irrepressible Grace Paley

5. The library made of water.

Fade to black.

3 Responses

  1. OK, you’re morally
    OK, you’re morally outraged…

    Fair enough–and I wouldn’t even disagree with you that being offended by the Met’s decisions is a legitimate emotional response. As I said in my post, you can argue that it’s a huge disservice to their customers not to carry a book that relates directly to one of their exhibits. And if the only spin on the story was “It sucks that the personal whims of a few small-minded people are keeping this and other books out of the Met gift shop,” that’d be fine, and probably even true. But what I heard from people was “The Met is banning books,” which is a much different scenario, and not true. Even you’re talking about “an organization’s attempt at silencing an art historian,” which is unnecessary hyperbolic.

    Frankly, the “it’s right to be offended” argument has its limitations, because it basically boils down to wanting bookstores to carry books you believe in; most stores I know don’t stock The Turner Diaries, for example, but I don’t lose any sleep over “an attempt to silence” white supremacists, and I doubt you do, either. What you call ethics here feels a lot more like personal sensibilities. Which is fine–we’ve all got ’em–but let’s not elevate them to the level of universal principles quite so quickly.

  2. Ron, maybe we could spin this
    Ron, maybe we could spin this whole thing a different way, avoiding all talk of “censorship” and “silencing” and “outrage”. Because these are all over-used, hype-heavy terms, and they don’t really fit what happened here.

    I see what happened here as totally outside the boundary of legality or constitutionality — it’s a simple case of popular activism, a proof of the effectiveness of speaking out (on blogs and in newspapers) and applying pressure to affect a positive change. An organization apparently applied some pressure on the Met bookshop not to stock a book. And a bunch of people then applied some pressure on the Met bookshop to change that decision and stock the book. Mano e mano, right? I think it’s as simple as that. I’m just celebrating the fact that the voices on behalf of the book apparently won here, and I wonder why you wouldn’t want to celebrate this too — that’s all!

  3. Calling this “popular
    Calling this “popular activism” is just as hype-laden. Really, what this all boils down to is that an author got a bookstore to carry his book instead of not carrying it. That’s very nice, but I remain unconvinced it’s a moral victory for anybody but Nicholas Fox Weber and Knopf, let alone for the spirit of democracy.

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Litkicks will turn 30 years old in the summer of 2024! We can’t believe it ourselves. We don’t run as many blog posts about books and writers as we used to, but founder Marc Eliot Stein aka Levi Asher is busy running two podcasts. Please check out our latest work!