My 15 Minutes of Fame (Going Up in Flames)

This is what you get when you volunteer to be on the library board. Last fall we put on a community reading program through the National Endowment for the Arts Big Read program, which is one of the great things about America, proving that the Feds aren't all bad. And though my arrest here, was a mock arrest, it has a pretty serious side, for me and my book and my community.

The threat of some censoring action is there, but I feel, as did Ray Bradbury in his novel Fahrenheit 451, that this matter of burning books in that culture was the result of indifference and disinterest and not a matter of the governmant closing things down.


What we were doing here is trying to raise consciousness about the fact that there are more ways to "burn a book" than just burning a book. So, we staged a book burning, and we used some printer error copies of my first book, Long After Dark, as fodder. You can see the flames of the burning in the right hand corner of the page. I was to protest the burning of the book, and the cops were to tell me to calm down and take it through proper channels. Even though it was fake, I had a very visceral response to it. My pulse went up, and I felt like I was on my way to a McCarthy hearing, or to Guantanamo.

Actually, my biggest concern about my own book is that people will not read it. That there will be a general sense of apathy about it and the things that I care about that went into it. If someone wanted to burn it, that would be better. It would say that this book meant something, that it had the power to make changes.

But there is some danger in that, always some danger.