Yin and Yang of
the Many Worlds of Literature
There are so many aspects of literature that it is hard
to define or confine. It entails a huge publishing world
that is becoming more complex by the day. Readers may
blithely indulge in their favorite genre without giving
it much though. Awards. Editing. Printing. Formatting.
The kaleidoscope parts of fiction from structure to dialogue.
lately I’ve been noticing a yin and yang of literature.
It’s a little like matter and the dark stuff that
physicists now talk about. So many exciting developments,
but then a pull or tug of something gloomy, destructive,
or even evil.
Cook’s curbside library in Los Angeles is a case
in point. These do-it-yourself libraries have been sprouting
up in isolated spots across the nation (maybe the world),
usually hand-built affairs. Scrap two-by-fours. Old crates.
Discarded tarps or garbage bags used as liners. Each,
if not deserving of being called a sculpture, is at least
a creative effort of the owner, one that reflects a love
of learning and a need to share. They even have a way
of bring small communities together—kind of like
block parties. Take a book, leave one, or swap. It’s
all the same to those who love books and reading at these
libraries. No strings attached.
good deed goes unrewarded. But then along comes the dark
matter, the yang. Along comes an ogre who doesn’t
like that the library is planted on the grass strip between
sidewalk and street. Yikes. Such an infringement! He or
she—we don’t know which because grinches often
prefer to stay anonymous—forgets that public property
is supposed to benefit the public. So poor Cook gets reported
and his readers suffer.
course, when a violation is reported, the city has to
follow up. They, too forget that rules are meant to be
broken. Especially when no zoning rule has been broken
other than utilizing a nice little grassy spot near the
curb where a book can be accessed easily. They forget
that their first duty may not be to police zoning laws
so much as to protect the people and add a modicum of
neighborliness to any community.
they miscalculate, though. Did Cook just cave when confronted
with the almighty hand of the government? I should say
not. He and his fellow book lovers are fighting the city.
And with journalists and columnists like LA Times’
Steve Lopez around to broadcast Cook’s plight, they
just might win the war against this particular zoning
law that needs to be bent—and against the neighborhood
one last thing. Journalism is our key to freedom. Sometimes
it seems as if we are all too hasty to criticize it. But
that love of reading, that urge to read what we want without
fear of censorship? That’s one of those aspects
of literature that we need to protect with every ounce
of our beings. Journalism is one of the ways we keep the
light side brighter and stronger than the dark.
Tips and Tidbits
(Each month in this box, Carolyn
lists a Tidbit that will help authors write or promote
better. She will also include a Tip to help readers
find a treasure among long-neglected books or a
sapphire among the newly-published.)
multi award-winning The
Frugal Editor is now in its second
edition—as an e-book (the print edition
is coming a bit later.) It’s been reformatted,
updated and expanded.
Tip for Readers' Tip:
If you have a favorite author and
have no idea how to thank him or her for the
many hours of pleasure he or she has provided,
why not pass your fondness forward? Add a
reader review to Amazon.com or BN.com. Or
mention them on Facebook with a link to the
buypage on Amazon. Or here’s a biggie!
Offer to give them a reading party in your
home. You could even make it a book potluck.
nominate a book that fits within the parameters listed
in this year's Noble Back to Literature column. Explain
in 25 word or less why your nomination is a work of literary
merit and sent directly to me.
Nominations must be signed with your real name, e-mail
address and a URL if you have one. Email
Winners feel free to capture a
banner for your website!
Howard-Johnson is a multi award-winning novelist, poet
and author of the HowToDoItFrugally series of
how-to books. She occasionally teaches classes for the
renowned UCLA Extension Writers' Program.
Website - My
Review Blog - Email