I have another rant today – it is I am sure a very personal one. I do have foibles concerning identity and permission to be private. I complain if other people read a postcard addressed to me, let alone a letter. I know postcards are open and therefore ‘anyone’ is entitled to read them – I have heard it all before – I happen to disagree.
What has this to do with books?
Well I have this feel for personal privacy and identity for others as well. ‘Joe public’ does not have the God-given right to know everything there is to know about another person, nor do they have the right to make things up about other people either.
Ourselves, our inner selves not the public front we present, is ours. If we wish to share, fine. If we go to our graves having not shared, that too is fine, and nobodies business except ours.
Wait for it, I am coming to books, honest.
I am not a great fan of most ‘historical’ fiction, not since I grew old enough to hold these opinions. Some are okay, but mostly they are ruined, for me, because authors will bring in ‘real’ historical figures and ‘invent’ situations and conversations pertaining to come from them. This, in my opinion, is so wrong. It is a form of identity theft in my eyes.
There is no way on earth anyone can know what someone 50 years ago may have said or done let alone someone 300 years ago. If the readers do not read non fiction or have access to the historical evidence they may well go to their graves believing the fictional history.
History is already riddled with unreliable narrators; the winners of battles, the authorities who decide what history is presented, please don’t make it worse. Do not put thoughts into dead people. Rely on the research for reality. People the books with fictional characters for sure.
It is akin to collecting names of church records and baptizing dead folk into a different religion – how can that be right, and that is from someone without religion.
I am ranting because I have recently finished The Reunion of Ghosts by Judith Claire Mitchell a book group read.
I was looking forward to reading it. The premise looked fascinating, and it was, the character’s sounded interesting and they were, very. A book said to be the longest suicide note in history.
The reviews garnered are positive
It is about the three surviving sisters of a dysfunctional family of Jews living in America – their family history goes back a few generations to Europe – to the early 1900s. It is going to include Nazis and pogroms, it’s inevitable and these were handled well.
Whats not to enjoy?
On all that I would have marked it highly. The writing was excellent, it combined loss, sorrow, fear, love happiness with fine detail and mists of dark humour and wit. A story about the perceived faults passed down through generations, perceived guilt of previous generations.
On the face of it, as I read it, I should have been yelling
‘What a brilliant book.‘
It is a brilliant book and unless you have the same scruples as me I highly recommend it. Without a fatal flaw I would have ranked it high on my list of want to read again books
The author has gone in for identity theft in a big way. She has based some of the characters on real people; giving her characters the discoveries and accolades of the real people. She has mixed the real, such as Einstein, with the fictional and invented new situations and conversations where none exist in any records. She has lifted a letter written by a real person and allowed it to be written by a fictional. All this she tells us at the end of book – it should have been at the front! She isn’t hiding anything, and I know most people reading the book will not mind in the slightest, especially as she is so honest about it. But for me it turned a splendid book into one I don’t ever want to read again.
How dare anyone take anything away from the dead and hand it over to a fictional being. It brings us down to the level of those meddlers of history, those who can and do. There should be a stricter code of ethics to fiction writing. It should not be ‘anything goes’. Don’t mess with the dead. Don’t change their histories.
As I said it is a personal feeling of outrage.
So rant over and I will try not to bring another one here for a while – blame it on the weather, that’s always a good excuse for stuff.
Musing Mondays is a weekly meme that asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer:
- I’m currently reading…
- Up next I think I’ll read…
- I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
- I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
- I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
- I can’t wait to get a copy of…
- I wish I could read ___, but…
- I blogged about ____ this past week…
THIS WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION: Do you read more than one book at once? Why, or why not?
Now do I read more than one book at a time? Nowadays not as much as I used, I don’t go out so very much. I always have a fiction and non fiction going side by side. The non-fiction is my dip-in-to book, for the shorter periods of time. Occasionally I will start a small book if I’m reading a huge one and need to go out anywhere, as it is essential never go out without a book. So the last few days while I have been reading I Am Pilgrim all 800+ pages, I have started Our Endless Numbered Days because I needed a book to fit my bag.
When I was young and cutting edge I would have one on the go at work, one next to my bed and one in the bathroom. Ah, those were the days, when I could lie in hot water – topping up when needed- with a book, music and coffee and read until my skin resembled a brain! Just to be able to get in and out of one would be nice these days:)
There was always, and still is, at least one in the car at all times ‘just in case’.