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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