Posted by: HAT | December 5, 2014

Food for Fantasy

A fresco showing figures gathered around a dragon, with a statue in the distance

In this Austrian fresco, the Prophet Daniel is about to slay a dragon by feeding him poisoned bread

Hi, Gang!

Confession: I don’t read novels. That is, not really – only if you count detective fiction, which I used to read like I smoked cigarettes, or young adult fiction, which seems like it should only count if I also read grown-up fiction. Certainly not often – I think I do usually read an entire grown-up novel every year; in a really ambitious year, maybe two or three. Novels are a lot of work, and usually make me sad, which I get enough of without reading them, and when I am reading them I always have the feeling that I ought to be doing something else.

Nevertheless, here is a word about a novel. Not one I have read, of course, but one I have been thinking about: The Book of Daniel. I began thinking about it because I am actually reading the Book of Daniel now – in the Bible, not the novel by E.L. Doctorow – and it reads like fiction. (Come on, you know what I mean! Ch. 8-12 seriously sounds like it was written by someone who was trying to write something that sounded like the Bible, after there already was one.)

So I looked it up – The Book of Daniel by E.L. Doctorow, not the one in the Bible – and interestingly, it turns out (based on the testimony of others, like Melissa Benn’s review in the Guardian) that it is about radicalism and its successes and failures and the difficulties of orienting oneself to it, about whether the justice system can be trusted if you are the kind of people the justice system has been designed to work against, about trying or not trying or perhaps not trying enough and in the ways available to you to make the world better. So, maybe reading it would help me think about all of these things more deeply, which does seem to be on the agenda at the moment.

It also sounds like it will make me sad. Typical. But then, what doesn’t lately? So, maybe I will read the Book of Daniel after I read the Book of Daniel. I think I still need to read a novel this year, and time is running out.

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