Irish Papist

Irish Papist
Me and General Robert Lee

Monday, December 5, 2016

Reading and Writing Makes you Liberal

According to Stephen King, anyway.

He suggests that people who are well-read would be somehow immune to Donald Trump's crude and vague use of language. I wonder how many millions of Trump voters were highly literate?

He also dismisses non-readers as people who get their knowledge of the world from Fox News and Rush Limbaugh.

Stephen King is a genius and I've happily lost myself in many of his books; he has that primary gift of a story-teller, that the worlds he creates have a solidity and a reality of their own, which has nothing to do with how realistic or plausible they might be. 

But quite a few of the things he says here irritates me. He lists off a few names of contemporary writers of literary fiction, and suggests ordinary Americans are semi-illiterate for knowing nothing about them. Why should they? What's so great about literary fiction, particularly contemporary literary fiction?

I don't know what makes people liberal or conservative, but I'm pretty sure it's more elusive than whether or not a person is an enthusiastic reader.

All my life I've felt ill-read. I can hardly ever remember 'devouring' a book. I have never felt the inclination to read for hours. I share King's view on the importance of reading, but I think there are many different sorts of reader, and I certainly don't agree that reading (by itself) necessarily inclines you towards any particular view of the world.

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