Criticism & Features

NBCC Reads

Fall 2008: Long Tail #5


Time for another Long Tail post from the most recent NBCC Reads. This time around, we’ve got suggestions from blogger Mark Sarvas (whose first novel, Harry, Revised, was published earlier this year) and Janice Harayda, a novelist, former NBCC board member, and the the proprietor of One Minute Book Reviews.

Mark Sarvas: The book most relevant to the election never once mentions the words “Obama” or “McCain.” But Rob Riemen’s Nobility of Spirit: A Forgotten Ideal is about what happens when the high ideals of culture are degraded; when “elite” is turned into an epithet; when ignorance is celebrated and high ideals are mocked. This slim volume is the most effective rejoinder to the Palin candidacy I’ve seen anywhere.

Janice Harayda: By coincidence, just before I got the message about NBCC Reads, I had posted two quatrains I like from a poem called “knowledge” by Tadeusz Różewicz (published in New Poems and translated from the Polish by Bill Johnston). This poem is about the shifts in the dance between certainty and doubt that occur as we get older, not as we get closer to election day (though, of course, we’re all getting older in the next couple of weeks, too). But the shifts between what Różewicz calls “cogito” and “dubito”—and vice versa—may define the election if, as seems likely, the independent voters are pivotal.