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lono

What I am reading

the weird and highly subjective way I see it

Currently reading

Moby-Dick in Pictures: One Drawing for Every Page
Matt Kish
Progress: 70/600 pages
The Autobiography of a Brown Buffalo
Oscar Zeta Acosta, Manuel Acosta Sero, Hunter S. Thompson
Progress: 105/204 pages
Gulliver's Travels
Jonathan Swift, Robert DeMaria Jr.
Progress: 29/306 pages
Fifty Egg Timer Short Stories
Richard Bunning

And now to something completely different

The Autobiography of a Brown Buffalo - Oscar Zeta Acosta, Manuel Acosta Sero, Hunter S. Thompson

From Melvilles letters to Acostas autobiography. Shock therapy, baby!

This made me love Melville even more

The letters of Herman Melville - Herman Melville, Merrell R. Davis, William H. Gilman

For some reason Herman Melville intrigues me and I cannot seem to part with him. I was fascinated by the story of Moby-Dick since I was a kid, when I would look at the illustrations in my older brothers edition and I was thrilled when I saw the movie adaption in 1998. But ever since early this year, when I wrote a paper on the comparison of different translations of Moby-Dick and therefore was really diving into Melvilles writing, I cannot let go of him.

I wanted to know how Melville lived through the process of writing this incredibly leviathan of a book – and what better way to find out, than to read his correspondence. But I got way more out of his letters than that.

 

This was a journey through Melvilles life, beginning with the earliest (surviving) letter to his Grandmother at the age of 9 and ending with the last (again, surviving) letter in the year before he died. And in between those two you get to follow him through his whole life – you experience the beginning of his career, when he writes like a humble young man who is very happy, that his work gets published at all, then you reach a somewhat mean and cocky phase in his life, when he believed himself to be a world class author until you get to a point when he is settling down and becomes a content family man who likes good company and never refuses a drink or two. That nice, happy fellow is the Herman Melville we know and love today.

 

My personal favourites were his letters to Nathaniel Hawthorne – what a dream-team! Melville expresses such a deep understanding of Hawthorne and their friendship, I cannot explain it any differently than they being soul-mates. Those letters are much more intimate and tender than any of the letters I found, which he wrote to the members his family.

 

A few words to the „genre“ of letters. In general, I always feel a bit weird when I read someone else’s letters or diaries, because this is an extremely personal form of writing. Basically, these letters were never intended for anyone else to read than the addressee. There is a sort of intimacy in a letter, which I think we have lost completely in our writings nowadays.

But, me feeling weird about it aside, it was fantastic to experience a time, when there was no haste in communication. Melville knew, that it would take a letter to his publisher in London approximately one month to get there and because the same goes for the answer, you could probably expect an answer after two to three months.

 

By the way, this is a very nice edition, you immediately see, that the scholars put a lot of effort in it. And now, ending with Melvilles own words:

 

Much more might be said, but enough.

Dreamteam Melville + Hawthorne

The letters of Herman Melville - Herman Melville, Merrell R. Davis, William H. Gilman

I don’t think  I have ever read anything more beautiful and touching than Melvilles letter to Nathaniel Hawthorn in June 1851:

 

"If ever, my dear Hawthorne, in the eternal times that are to come, you and I shall sit down in Paradise, in some little shady corner by ourselves; and if we shall by any means be able to smuggle a basket of champagne there (I won’t believe in a Temperance Heaven), and if we shall then cross our celestial legs in the celestial grass that is forever tropical, and strike our glasses and our heads together, till both musically ring in concert, – then, O my dear fellow-mortal, how shall we pleasantly discourse of all the things manifold which now so distress us, – when all the earth shall be but a reminiscence, yea, its final dissolution an antiquity."

Reading progress update: I've read 70 out of 600 pages.

Moby-Dick in Pictures: One Drawing for Every Page - Matt Kish

What does Melville say?

 

"I don’t know how it is, but people like to be private when they are sleeping."

 

With this and the fitting picture by Matt Kish, I wish you a good night!

 

Reblogged from Dilettante:

The writing process, in one gif.

Everyone (but me) loves Esmeralda

Der Glöckner von Notre-Dame (insel taschenbuch) - Victor Hugo, Else von Schorn

Such a tedious beginning! Way too many secondary characters, way too many unimportant names and way to many descriptions of clothing, uniforms, buildings and architectural details. Not to mention the following excessive descriptions of the city structure of Paris. This was so confusing and the more I read, the less I was able to imagine what Paris looked like and additionally, you are completely pulled out of the plot. Not helping, Victor, not helping. You know, Čechov used to criticise the young Gorkij for using way too many adjectives in his writings. Its a good thing, Čechov never saw Victor Hugo’s mess. Man, that writing is not only overloaded with details, but also really patronising.

 

The overall theme of the book is perhaps best described with the word love, while also featuring a lot of racism, sexism, violence, poverty, class struggles and cruelty. What bugged me though is, that in the beginning Hugo touches on many crucial subjects like civil disturbances, power struggles, the beginning of printing and hence the churches’ loss of power over the written word, but unfortunately, he does not pursue them any further.

 

Character-wise, I fell in love with Pierre Gringoire, the constantly twaddling philosopher, who is the personification of the principle of comic relief. He is sweet, funny and loveable, especially in his love for Djali the goat! I absolutely agree with his attitude – save Djali, forget about Esmeralda. I wish there was more of him in the book.

 

Oddly enough, I kind of also liked Frollo, even though I was shocked when I found out, that he is only 35 years old and Esmeralda is just 16 (I imagined him around 50 and her somewhere in her late twenties or early thirties). But still, up to a certain degree I can understand him, I guess this is what happens if a hardcore Catholic gets a boner. He tried to fight it, but well, the (pedophiliac) urge was stronger.

 

Esmeralda. According to my former knowledge of the story (thanks, Disney) I expected a strong, smart, confident woman who fights for equality. But all I got from Hugo was a naive, stupid, superficial and ignorant child, madly in love with playboy Captain Phoebus. But hey, at least she has some principles. Cheers to that! I guess…

To be fair, she is also kindhearted when she saves Gringoire (which I am thankful for) and of course, a victim of getting stalked.

 

And Quasimodo. First of all, for a 600-page book that is called The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, there is not much of our hunchback Quasimodo in it.

I might get a lot of shit for my opinion on him, but I think, that he really is a beast. Even though he is misunderstood, gets mistreated (basically more by the Parisians and Esmeralda than by Frollo I might add) and therefore probably does not understand the basic concepts of human behaviour, he still does unspeakable things. Kind of like Frankenstein’s monster which I also deeply disliked. Do you remember all the heroic stuff the Disney version of Quasimodo did when defending the church and Esmeralda? He does most of it in the book too, but only much more violently and against the good guys (unknowingly though). Deaf or not, if you act like a beast that went apeshit crazy, you get treated like one. So it goes.

Reading progress update: I've read 439 out of 663 pages.

Der Glöckner von Notre-Dame (insel taschenbuch) - Victor Hugo, Else von Schorn

Hmm. I am still hanging on, but for a book called The Hunchback of Notre Dame, there is not much going on Quaismodo-wise. Stuff is happening, though.

What did just happen??

Der Glöckner von Notre-Dame (insel taschenbuch) - Victor Hugo, Else von Schorn

Damn, I am confused now.

For the last hours I was reading excessive descriptions of what felt like every single building in 15th century Paris. The more I read, the less I could imagine, what the city looked like. I feel like I should take a break and play some AC Unity for a while to get a feeling for the town, because thanks to Hugo, I am completly lost now.

Reading progress update: I've read 148 out of 663 pages.

Der Glöckner von Notre-Dame (insel taschenbuch) - Victor Hugo, Else von Schorn

Resuming The Hunchback of Notre-Dame. There is Quasimodo, Esmeralda, Frollo, Phoebus and Gringoire. Now we’re talking.

Three Times Beckett

Warten Auf Godot / Endspiel / Glückliche Tage - Samuel Beckett, Erika Tophoven, Elmar Tophoven

I was curious about Beckett and I was especially curious about his play Waiting for Godot. This is because whenever I have heard about it, people were either really enthusiastic or really bitchy about it. So I just did, what everyone should do in this situation – I made up my own mind.

 

Waiting for Godot
I like this play.
Although there is not much action going on, a lot is actually happening in this play. It is amazingly sad, funny, beautiful, depressing, cruel and touching at the same time. The relationship between Estragon and Wladimir is just incredible. And Godot? I have no idea, who or what Godot is and neither had Beckett. But is this really important? For all it’s worth, I do not think that it matters at all.

 

Endgame
I also like this play.
Again, it is sad and beautiful at the same time. If I had to establish a central theme, it would be the power of human relationships. Beckett shows, that no matter how sick you are of someone else and how much you may despise one another, sometimes you are so dependent on each other, that – for good or worse – you simply cannot leave.

 

Happy Days
I do not like (to read) this play.
There are two types of plays - plays written to be read and plays written to be staged. Happy Days is definitely the latter. Although it is quite short, it is extremely exhausting to read due to the fact that it is basically an ongoing monologue, constantly interrupted by stage directions (which you can skip, but then it is even weirder or which you cannot skip, but then they are just annoying and interrupting the non-existent flow of the text).

I salute to every actress to take on this roll, I imagine, this is incredibly hard to play, but, honestly, reading it is a sheer nightmare.

Objective journalism - look it in the eye and grab it straight by its fucking throat

Fear and Loathing at Rolling Stone: The Essential Writing of Hunter S. Thompson - Hunter S. Thompson, Jann Wenner

HS Thompson. What can I say? I think he is one of the most fascinating writers and the best fucking journalist who ever lived.

 

Fear and Loathing at Rolling Stone contains what the cover calls "The Essential Writing of Hunter S. Thompson“ - well, I mean, that is debatable, for sure, but there are amazing pieces in here. As I have read nearly all of his novels, it was super refreshing to read some of his journalistic writings as well.

 

Although I personally can only bring myself to follow politics on a pretty superficial, absolute need-to-know basis, what fascinated and scared me the most in here, was his writing on the presidential election campaigns. If you just swap the names of Nixon and McGovern, this could be a report on last years election or every other one before that. Shit, this could probably even be a report for an election in 20 or 30 years! Two generations later and nothing has changed. Nothing. Not even a bit. That’s probably one reason why I stopped bothering to remember names of politicians a long time ago – because it simply doesn’t matter. They are absolutely interchangeable. And Thompson is the only journalist I know of, who has the balls to actually openly admit it.

 

A very touching and partly even tender piece was the obituary for Oscar Zeta Acosta, a good friend of HST and the real life model for his 300 pound Samoan attorney, who disappeared in 1974. There is no question about this – the picture Thompson draws of this incredible brown buffalo is way bigger and heavier than the man in real life. But it is not Thompsons goal to describe the man in real life, but to describe the real man. The man behind the everyday mask – the one we all wear. His unique talent was not to simply look behind this mask, but the ability to break and shatter it once and for all with his exaggeration, so he could glimpse at the person behind it. And most amazingly, he chose to share these glimpses with all of us who are willing to buy our ticket and take the ride on the HST train.

Čechov at his best

Три сестры / Drei Schwestern - Антон Павлович Чехов, Wolfgang Schriek

Three sisters is an amazing play. Although plot-wise there is not so much going on, language-wise and artistically this is superb. Čechov had this incredible talent to depict his contemporary every-day life in a way, that it still seems contemporary nowadays (if you overlook the carriages and letter writing, for instance). But the basic human interaction and our failing in being able to communicate with each other is still the same and I haven’t found any other dramatist who could depict it as accurately and as funny as Čechov did.

 

But the most amazing feature of his plays is, that every time, I read them, I find some new facet, which I haven’t noticed before.

Poor Oksana, yet at the same time: poor me!

Сердешна Оксана - Григорій Квітка-Основ'яненко

This is what I spent my last week with. I did a presentation today about this text by the early Ukrainian Author Hryhorij Kvitka-Osnov’janenko and I am so relieved that this is over! In order to talk about it, I had to read it first, naturally. The problem here is, that this was written in Ukrainian (and not the modern-kind-of-similar-to-Russian-Ukrainian, but the old-fashioned 1838 Ukrainian with weird orthography and lexis) and the only available translations are in Bulgarian, Polish, Czech and a French one from 1853. Tough luck.

 

With the help of a bunch of dictionaries and a couple of sleepless nights later, I finally managed to understand the text, so now I can proudly say, that it was ok.

 

Сердешна Оксана is a sentimental story, clearly in the tradition of Karamzin, but it has some „refreshing“ twists to the classic sentimental plot and Oksana is actually portrayed pretty well psychologically, considering it was written in the early 19th century. Overall, this was rather exhausting, not only due to the language, but also because the narrator tends to moralise every now and then for quite some extended passages.

Reading progress update: I've read 419 out of 592 pages.

Fear and Loathing at Rolling Stone: The Essential Writing of Hunter S. Thompson - Hunter S. Thompson, Jann Wenner

It’s been a while, I’ve had some pretty stressful weeks (which will still continue, I am afraid), so there was not much time for reading. But hang in there! (at least this is, what I tell myself)

[Guest post] Diversity in SciFi and Fantasy books / [DE] Die Vielfalt in Science Fiction und Fantasy

Reblogged from BookLikes:

 

Please meet Sameena Jehanzeb, a German author of BRÏN, a diverse fantasy romance, and BookLikes blogger. We invited Sam to share her thoughts about diversity in books, a much discussed topic not only in books but also in all life spheres. And so important. Sam covers the topic on the German market and touches the English market as well, therefore, she agreed to write the piece both in English and German, please scroll down for the German version. 

 

--

 

A guest post by Sam from Moyas Buchgewimmel

 

There are things that are important to me. Respect. Equal rights. Humanity. However, reality often is so overwhelming with negative events that one experiences the feeling of drowning in it. It is therefore all the more important to cling to positive thinking and hope. For me this works by dipping deep into stories and writing them myself. Stories that give me all the diversity there is. That's why I love the genres of fantasy and science fiction so much, because they invite us to an almost limitless number of worlds where everything is possible.

 

When we talk about diversity in literature today, it's about a multitude of different things at the same time: sexual orientation, our origin, gender equality, physical handicap/ disease. Only a small number of books deviate from the typical image of the white, heterosexual and physically healthy and attractive main figure. Yet we desperately need the Otherness in our stories to teach us - while at the same time entertaining us - that diversity is no cause for panic and that people of a different skin color, religion or sexual orientation are a valuable and important part of our society. It’s especially important for young people to be able to deal with these issues. In science fiction and fantasy we are able to characterize any appearance and sexual orientation in the social structure of a foreign or magical world like Max Gladstone did in his "Craft" series  - or Becky Chamber's The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, once a kickstarter project that became a huge success with its colorful, intergalactic mixed spaceship crew. Despite the potential of these genres authors and publishers still hardly approach social minorities and take them seriously.

 

Three Parts Dead - Max Gladstone The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet - Becky Chambers

 

Fantasy and SciFi, however, have always been a bit rebellious and their followers are unconventional thinkers, libertines, nerds and weirdos. We defeat dragons and emperors, kill gods, dance with elves, aliens, witches and robots. The power is with us and the ectoplasm somewhere beyond. We don’t run through the streets armed with swords and laser guns to bring justice to the galaxy but we dare to have thoughts that scare others. We consciously move away from reality to seek answers only found in fiction. We continue to dream because we refuse to accept the hardness of reality and we need these books full of magic and spaceships to find the certainty that life one day can be different. Books give us the strength we need to keep fighting for a fair and diverse future. The demand for more diversity is not about replacing the traditional but to broaden one’s mind and embrace all forms of being human.

 

The great thing about fiction is that it not only brings us magic and futuristic technology, it can also create social structures you could only dream of in reality. And because it is fantasy / SciFi it is taken as given, so that new ways of thinking have a chance to unfold and ideas are able to sink in. Fiction is allowed to be different, right? Such stories teach us about alternatives to actual conditions in an unobtrusive way, and sometimes they even let us rethink a situation. Authors can raise people's awareness through stories to be open to the Otherness and show them that not everything different is something to be afraid of. It think it would be best to start from a young age, so that fears and prejudices are less likely to form in our heads. I know, at this point people get nervous. Traditionalists fear that their children will become homosexual by simply mentioning the word and they will persistently ignore the truth. There is outrage about “honor killings”, and at the same time the same people stifle the dignity and vitality of those who don't fit into their traditional image - however much these poor creatures try or wish to be “normal”. How many young people are afraid for far too long? Afraid of themselves, of their parents' reaction, of being different. How much suffering do they have to bear all alone, how much despair? Wouldn't it be nice if they could at least find shelter in stories where they find protagonists who are like them?

 

The traditionalists, or at least people who prefer to swim with the tide, those who do not want to attract attention to themselves, seem to be sitting in the publishing houses and literature agencies too, because as soon as a book contains a non-heterosexual couple the alarm bells ring and the rejection letters go out . Those stories are not likely to sell, they say. If you're especially "lucky"- as I was - you even get an ignorant explanation as to why you cannot be quite in your right mind to submit a story with a non-heterosexual couple. Great writing, madam, but gays and lesbians? - Hahahaha! There was even a calculation about how few people would be interested in such a book because it would be completely impossible for a heterosexual person to read something about a homosexual couple. Funny thing is, there is a trend for M/M-Romance in Germany. Sure, those gay-romances are directed at heterosexual woman and ignore all other manifestations of LGBT, but at least those books exist. Now, I am obviously in a much better position than those publishers because I know almost only heterosexual people who are looking for all sorts of love and skin colors in their stories. Yes, they are going to lengths to find it! I am talking about heterosexual, white-skinned people who read books with dark-skinned, homosexual, bisexual, transgender, physically and psychologically damaged protagonists. From N.K. Jemisin to Nnedi Okorafor and Nicola Griffith everything is accounted for: a wide range of skin colors, all kinds of love, entertaining feminism. How pre-condemned and patronized do these white heteros have to feel for being stereotyped as readers who can’t possibly want something other than traditional structures?

 

When it comes to protagonists and authors of color, there is at least some fresh wind in the dusty shelves of the German book market from time to time. To integrate those books of color into a publishers program works as some kind of social act, as a confession against racism and for solidarity. Good thing. But it still remains difficult and rather scarce. Sometimes these advanced thinking also provokes heated debates as happened with the German edition of »Pipi Long Stocking « when the publisher decided to erase the politically outdated word »Neger« (en: Negro) from these books. People were furious that a classic children’s book got changed. Those were the times, they say. Such setbacks may also be exactly the kind of signal publishers don’t need when we strive for more diversity and respect for all human beings.

 

Protagonists who are not heterosexual and in physical top form are even more invisible. Everyone is talking about inclusion at workplaces, but nobody seems to think about the inclusion in our heads. Publishing houses stick to traditional patterns because anything that hasn’t been tried before does not guarantee maximum sales. You better be safe than sorry and stick to the old, proven topics while ignoring the fact that the world around them is changing anyway. The muted and forgotten voices of the others and those of the open-minded are getting louder. Those stamped as minority in one way or the other are seeking for different ways to get their voice out and reach those who are desperately looking for the Otherness. Self-publishing, blogs and YouTube offer possibilities for everyone to be heard nowadays. The methodically forgotten are tired of being forgotten and despised. While big publishing houses complain about shrinking sale numbers and publish one cloned story after another, small publishers everywhere take the chance to push diversity forward. Book clubs that focus on LGBT/ Diversity topics are no longer a rarity. This is all a good start, but we are in need of more consideration, especially here in Germany, where the objections are even stronger than beneath the great pond.

 

The English book market has long since become much louder when it comes to diversity. Even large publishers are gradually picking up diverse books, while in Germany it seems to be an accident to find such a book at a big publishing house. And yet there are a lot of blogging readers who are voicing their demand for more diverse books. For example The Bookavid, Herr Booknerd and also myself are looking for diversity and we do enjoy those stories. Other bloggers don’t actively search for diversity, but they often see the beauty of diversity when they stumble upon the right books and mention their excitement in their reviews when they encounter an unusual scenery and untypical characters. So far, I have not seen one book blogger who panicked because a book deviated from German standard. Despite this wide acceptance and open-mindedness in readers it’s still a tilt at windmills if one is not able to read untranslated English novels. In the German-speaking world diverse books, especially LGBT, are almost exclusively published with small niche publishers like Ylva  or Butze Verlag. My own book will be published there, too, and I am happy to have found a dedicated publisher like Butze.

 

But the small ones, as committed as they are, lack the financial strength to advertise their books as loudly and flashy as the big houses - therefore many books remain undiscovered. We need more courage from big publishers, too. The expansion of the portfolio should be a top priority because a large number of readers want more diversity. It would be so important, especially for young people, to learn that there is not just one truth. We humans are heterosexual, homosexual, asexual and more. We are white, black, brown and everything in between. We are one-armed, six-fingered and blind. We are dwarfs, elves and dragons. We are the ghost in the shell and we are the feather that breaks the balance. We are diverse, whether we want it or not. In 2017, shouldn't our books be finally more diverse, too?

 

Now, what can we do as readers to ensure more diversity in our books? We must announce our interest and we must do it loudly. Share books you've enjoyed in your social networks. If you have a blog, write about what you think about diversity and why you embrace it. Look specifically for books where diversity is part of the story. If you have trouble finding them ask other bloggers who have put the topic on their agenda. They can give you book recommendations and links. The most important thing, though, is that we talk about diversity so that publishers can see there is something going on, that there is a demand, not fear. As Herr Booknerd recently put it, "Speech is silver, silence gets old" – it’s hard to say it better.

 

---BRÏN - Sameena Jehanzeb

Sameena Jehanzeb is the German author of BRÏN – a diverse fantasy romance wherein heroes and heroines are connected by friendship, love or conflict and are respected no matter their color, gender or sexual orientation. If Sameena isn’t busy writing she sinks deep into books of her favorite authors or brings the many worlds in her head to life as an illustrator and papercut artist.



[DE]

 

Es gibt einige Dinge, die mir wichtig sind. Respekt. Weitsicht. Gleichberechtigung. Menschlichkeit. Die Realität ist aber oft anderer Ansicht und überschwemmt einen so oft mit negativen Ereignissen, dass man das Gefühl hat, darin zu ertrinken. Umso wichtiger ist es, dass man sich das positive Denken und die Hoffnung bewahrt. Für mich funktioniert das durch das Abtauchen in und das Schreiben von Geschichten. Geschichten, die mir all das geben, wogegen sich die Realität manchmal mit Händen und Füßen zu wehren versucht. Vielfältige Geschichten. Darum liebe ich die Genres Fantasy und Science Fiction so sehr, denn sie eröffnen mir eine schier grenzenlose Anzahl von Welten, wo alles möglich ist.

 

Wenn wir heutzutage in der Literatur von Diversity, also von Vielfalt sprechen, dann meint das eine Menge unterschiedlicher Dinge gleichzeitig: die Vielfalt der sexuellen Orientierung, die der Herkunft, die Gleichberechtigung der Geschlechter und auch körperliche Behinderung/ Krankheit. Es gibt verhältnismäßig wenige Bücher, die sich vom typischen Bild der weißen, heterosexuellen und körperlich ebenso gesunden wie attraktiven Hauptfigur lösen. Dabei hätten wir all diese Dinge bitter nötig in unseren Geschichten, damit sie einem auf unterhaltsame Weise beibringen können, dass Normabweichungen kein Grund zur Panik sind und dass auch Menschen anderer Hautfarben, Religionen oder Bettvorlieben wertvoll und ein wichtiger Teil unserer Gesellschaft sind. Besonders für junge Heranwachsende ist es sehr wichtig, sich mit diesen Themen auseinandersetzen zu können. Gerade in den Genres Science Fiction und Fantasy haben wir die Möglichkeit, jedwede Eigenschaft und Orientierung in die gesellschaftlichen Strukturen fremder oder magischer Welten einzubauen, wie es z.B. Max Gladstone mit seiner „Craft“ Series macht  – oder nehmen wir Becky Chambers „kleinen zornigen Planeten“ , der als Kickstarterprojekt begann und mit seiner bunten, intergalaktisch gemischten Raumschiffcrew zu einem ungeahnten Erfolg wurde. Trotz des Potentials kommt es aber noch immer viel zu selten vor, dass sich Autoren oder Verlage an gesellschaftliche Minderheiten heranwagen und sie ernst nehmen.

 

Der lange Weg zu einem kleinen zornigen Planeten - Becky Chambers,Karin Will Three Parts Dead - Max Gladstone

 

Fantasy und SciFi aber galten schon immer als rebellisch und ihre Anhänger als Querdenker, Aufmüpfige, Freidenker, Nerds und Weirdos. Wir besiegen Drachen und Imperatoren, töten Götter, tanzen mit Elfen, Aliens, Hexen und Robotern. Die Macht ist mit uns und das Ektoplasma irgendwo dahinter. Wir laufen zwar nicht mit Schwert und Bogen durch die Straßen und sorgen nicht mit Laserwaffen für Gerechtigkeit in der Galaxie, aber wir wagen es, Dinge zu denken, die anderen Angst machen. Wir entfernen uns bewusst von der Realität, um Antworten zu finden, die uns nur die Fiktion geben kann. Wir denken weiter, weil wir uns weigern, die Realität einfach hinzunehmen, und wir brauchen diese Bücher um die Gewissheit zu finden, dass es anders sein kann. Sie geben uns die Kraft die wir brauchen um weiter daran arbeiten zu können, dass es irgendwann besser wird. Bei dem Ruf nach mehr Vielfalt geht es nicht darum, das Traditionelle zu verdrängen, sondern darum, den Horizont zu erweitern und alle Formen des Menschseins einzuschließen.

 

Das Schöne an der Fiktion ist, dass sie nicht bloß mit Magie und futuristischer Technik um sich wirft, sie kann auch soziale Strukturen erschaffen, die man sie sich für die Realität wünschen würde. Und weil es Fantasy/ SciFi ist, stellt man diese Strukturen auch weniger schnell in Frage, sondern gibt ihnen die Chance sich zu entfalten und die Idee rüberzubringen. Es ist eben Fiktion, die darf anders sein. Über solche Geschichten lernen wir auf unaufdringliche Weise Alternativen zum Ist-Zustand kennen, und im Idealfall erweitern sie den Horizont von jemandem, ja, vielleicht bewirken sie gar ein Umdenken. Man kann Menschen durch Geschichten sensibilisieren, offen zu sein für das Andersartige und ihnen zeigen, dass nicht alles zum Fürchten ist, was anders ist. Am besten schon von klein auf, damit sich erst gar nicht so schrecklich viele Ängste und Vorurteile bilden. Ich weiß, an der Stelle scheiden sich die Geister. Traditionalisten befürchten, ihre Kinder würden durch die bloße Erwähnung des Wortes schon homosexuell werden und ignorieren beharrlich die Wahrheit. Man schreit auf bei Ehrenmorden und gleichzeitig ersticken die gleichen Menschen die Würde und Lebenskraft derer, die nicht ihrem traditionellen Bild entsprechen können – so sehr die auch versuchen oder sich wünschen „normal“ zu sein. Wie viele junge Menschen leben deswegen viel zu lange in Angst? Vor sich selbst, vor der Reaktion der Eltern, vor dem Anderssein. Wie viel Leid müssen sie mit sich allein herumtragen, wie viel Verzweiflung? Wäre es nicht schön, wenn sie wenigstens Zuflucht in Geschichten finden würden, in denen es Protagonisten gibt, die sind wie sie?

 

Die Traditionalisten, oder zumindest Menschen, die lieber mit dem Strom schwimmen, nicht auffallen und risikofreie Verkaufserfolge erzielen wollen, scheinen auch in den Verlagen und Literaturagenturen zu sitzen, denn kaum enthält ein Buch ein nicht heterosexuelles Paar, gehen die Alarmglocken an und die Absagen raus. Das bringt nicht genug Absatz. Wenn man richtig viel „Glück“ hat – so wie ich seinerzeit – bekommt man sogar eine süffisante Erklärung, weshalb man wohl nicht mehr ganz bei Verstand sein kann, eine Geschichte mit einem nicht heterosexuellen Paar einzureichen. Tolle Schreibe, Madame, aber Schwule und Lesben? – Hahahaha! Da wird einem gar vorgerechnet, wie wenige Menschen so ein Buch interessiert, weil es vollkommen ausgeschlossen ist, dass eine heterosexuelle Person etwas von einem homosexuelles Paar lesen möchte. Und das obwohl es sogar auf dem deutschsprachigen Markt einen absatzfreudigen Trend in Sachen M/M-Romance gibt. Der richtet sich zwar wohl an die Lesemehrheit heterosexueller Frauen und ignoriert alle weiteren Ausprägungen des LGBT, aber immerhin wird mal was gewagt!

 

Nun bin ich selbst offenbar auch in einer deutlich besseren Position, kenne ich doch fast nur heterosexuelle Menschen, die alle möglichen Arten der Liebe und Hautfarben in ihren Geschichten suchen. Ja, suchen. Ich rede hier von heterosexuellen, hellhäutigen LeserInnen, die mit Wonne Bücher mit dunkelhäutigen, homosexuellen, bisexuellen, transsexuellen, körperlich behinderten Protagonisten und und und lesen. Von N.K. Jemisin bis Nnedi Okorafor und Nicola Griffith ist alles dabei: bunt gemischte Hautfarben, bunt gemischte Liebe, unterhaltender Feminismus. Wie vorverurteilt und bevormundet müssen sich also diese standardisierten, weißen Heteros vorkommen, denen man einfach mal so unterstellt, dass sie nur traditionelle Strukturen gut finden können und wollen?

 

In Sachen Protagonisten und Autoren die als People of Color gelten, scheint im deutschen Buchmarkt immerhin ab und an eine Art Ruck durch die angestaubten Regale zu gehen. Solche Sachen ins Programm zu nehmen, gilt bei den Verlagen vermutlich als sozialer Akt, als Bekenntnis gegen Rassismus und für die Gemeinschaft. Gute Sache. Aber es bleibt trotzdem schwierig und eher eine Seltenheit. Manchmal löst das fortschrittliche Denken auch hitzige Debatten aus, wie z.B. bei Pipi Langstrumpf  und dem editieren oder nicht editieren des politisch längst nicht mehr korrekten Wortes „Neger“ geschehen. Da gab es lautes Geschrei, weil der Verlag es wagte, einen Kinderbuchklassiker zu verändern. Solche Rückschläge sind womöglich auch genau das Signal das Verlage nicht brauchen, auf dem Weg in eine vielfältigere Zukunft mit mehr Respekt füreinander.

 

Protagonisten, die nicht heterosexuell und körperlich in Top-Form sind, führen gleich ein noch viel größeres Schattendasein. Da redet man überall von Inklusion am Arbeitsplatz, aber über die Inklusion in unseren Köpfen scheint niemand nachzudenken. All zu gerne wird in den großen Verlagen auf bewährte Muster gesetzt, denn alles andere ist nicht erprobt und man will schließlich möglichst garantierte Verkaufsschlager. Da geht man lieber auf Nummer sicher, bleibt beim Altbekannten und ignoriert, dass sich die Welt um einen herum trotzdem verändert und dass die leisen, vergessenen Stimmen der Anderen und die der Aufgeschlossenen immer lauter werden. Die zur Minderheit Erklärten begehren auf, suchen sich alternative Wege, um sich eine Stimme zu verschaffen und diejenigen zu erreichen, die verzweifelt auf der Suche nach dem Anderen sind. Self-Publishing, Blogs und YouTube machen es möglich, dass heutzutage jeder gehört werden kann. Die methodisch Vergessenen sind es leid, vergessen und verachtet zu werden. Während die Großen über schlechte Zahlen klagen und eine geklonte Geschichte nach der anderen veröffentlichen, bilden sich überall Kleinverlage und nehmen die Veränderung in die eigenen Hände. Auch Buchclubs, die sich auf LGBT/Diversity-Themen festlegen, sind keine Seltenheit mehr. Das ist ein guter Anfang, aber es braucht alles noch mehr Aufmerksamkeit, erst recht hier in Deutschland, wo die Hemmungen noch eine ganze Etage höher reichen.

 

Auf dem englischsprachigen Buchmarkt ist der Ruf nach Diversity längst ein sehr lauter geworden, der auch die größeren Verlage nach und nach erreicht. Dagegen schauen wir in Deutschland, mit sehr wenigen Ausnahmen, noch ziemlich blass aus der Röhre, obwohl auch unseren Buchbloggern immer öfter der Kragen platzt. The BookavidHerr Booknerd und auch ich selbst z.B. suchen nach Diversity und genießen sie, andere Blogger freuen sich einfach nur in ihren Buchbesprechungen, wenn sie einer ungewöhnliche Szenerie und untypischen Figuren begegnen. Bisher habe ich noch keine/n Buchblogger/in erlebt, der/die in Panik geraten wäre, weil ein Buch von der deutschen Standardnorm abwich. Trotz dieser recht großen Akzeptanz und Aufgeschlossenheit bleibt es aber ein Kampf gegen Windmühlen, wenn man nicht auf englischsprachige Romane ausweichen kann. Im deutschsprachigen Raum erscheinen vielfältige Bücher, besonders wenn es um LGBT geht, fast ausschließlich in kleinen Nischenverlagen, wie z.B. Ylva oder der Butze Verlag, bei dem auch mein Roman im Juni erscheint. Und ich bin froh einen so motivierten kleinen Verlag gefunden zu haben.

 

Den Kleinen, so engagiert sie auch sind, fehlt aber das Kapital, ihre Bücher so laut und auffällig zu bewerben, wie es die Großen tun – so bleibt vieles unentdeckt. Wir brauchen also mehr Mut auch von den großen Verlagen. Es wäre dringend an der Zeit, das Portfolio zu erweitern, denn ein Großteil der Leser will mehr Vielfalt. Es wäre so wichtig, gerade für junge Menschen, zu erfahren, dass es nicht nur das eine Richtig gibt. Wir Menschen sind heterosexuell, homosexuell, asexuell und mehr. Wir sind weiß, schwarz, braun und alles dazwischen. Wir sind einarmig, sechsfingrig und blind. Wir sind Zwerge, Elfen und Drachen. Wir sind der Geist in der Maschine und das Zünglein an der Waage. Wir sind vielfältig, ob wir wollen oder nicht. Im Jahr 2017, sollten es da nicht auch endlich unsere Bücher sein dürfen?

 

Was können wir nun als Leser tun, um mehr Diversity in unsere Bücher zu bekommen? Wir müssen unser Interesse kundtun und das laut. Teilt Bücher die euch gefallen haben in euren sozialen Netzwerken. Habt ihr einen Blog, schreibt darüber was ihr zu dem Thema denkt. Sucht gezielt nach Büchern in denen Diversity vorkommt. Falls ihr Schwierigkeiten habt sie zu finden fragt bei Bloggern nach, die sich die Themen auf die Agenda gesetzt haben. Sie können euch garantiert ein paar Buch- und Linktipps geben. Das Wichtigste ist, dass darüber gesprochen wird und die Verlage sehen, da geht was vor, da herrscht Nachfrage, nicht Furcht. Wie Herr Booknerd erst kürzlich formulierte: »Reden ist Silber, Schweigen gets old« – besser kann man es kaum ausdrücken.

 

---BRÏN - Sameena Jehanzeb

Sameena Jehanzeb ist die Autorin des Fantasy Romans BRÏN indem sich Helden und  Heldinnen treffen, die durch Freundschaft, Liebe oder Konflikte miteinander verbunden sind, und sich in einer Welt, in der Gleichheit und Akzeptanz unabhängig von Hautfarbe, Geschlecht und sexueller Orientierung existieren, frei entfalten können. Wenn Sameena nicht gerade damit beschäftigt ist zu schreiben, versinkt sie in Büchern ihrer Lieblingsautoren oder illustriert die vielen Welten in ihrem Kopf mit Bleistift und Skalpell auf dem Papier.

 

 

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HST on elections

Fear and Loathing at Rolling Stone: The Essential Writing of Hunter S. Thompson - Hunter S. Thompson, Jann Wenner

Unbelievable that this was written in 1972. But sadly, it is more true than ever:

 

"The argument was familiar. I had even made it myself, here and there, but I was beginning to sense something very depressing about it. How many more of these goddamn elections are we going to have to write off as lame but "regrettably necessary" hold actions? And how many more of these stinking, double-downer sideshows will we have to go through before we can get ourselves straight enough to put together some kind of national election that will give me and the fourty million I tend to agree with a chance to vote for something, instead of always being faced with that old familiar choice between the lesser of two evils?"