Thursday, May 17, 2012

Speaking Truth

I've been hosting a series at our library since January called "So You Want to Read." Each month we have a different presenter talk about an author, a specific book, or a genre. It's really about approaching reading that may stretch us as an accessible, enjoyable adventure.

Tonight my friend Wendy gave an excellent presentation on John Steinbeck's East of Eden, which is one of my favorite novels. I hadn't quite realized before just how controversial his writing was. I knew about farmers in the Salinas Valley being unhappy with the way they were portrayed in The Grapes of Wrath, but I had no idea that there was so much backlash against him receiving the Nobel Prize in literature in 1962.

One of the things I've long admired about Steinbeck was his capacity to tell the truth as he saw it. I've been trying to sort out how to do that more myself. I know it's in me somewhere. Growing up I couldn't bear witnessing injustice, like if someone was accused of something they didn't do. My freshman year of high school, for example, I remember standing up to my French teacher who thought the boy sitting in front of me had cheated on a test. I knew he hadn't, and I defended him boldly.

The thing is, I actually think my French teacher respected me for it.

Yes, I need to keep sorting this out. I need to keep working to find my voice, because sometimes I feel like I'm swallowed up by truth I see but don't speak.

(I also think I should get extra points for earnestness on this one. Sometimes I'm just so damn earnest. There. There's some truth I need to speak!)

1 comment:

misssrobin said...

I love this "sometimes I feel like I'm swallowed up by truth I see but don't speak." Beautifully said. I spent many years being afraid to speak, when it wasn't safe for me to speak. Not so much anymore.

Now the trick for me is learning when to stay silent.