Friday, May 30, 2008

What Should They Read?

The New York Times Book Review this week has an interesting segment; Truth To Power. They asked famous writers to recommend some summer reading for our 3 presidential candidates. One of the best, I thought, was the first one from Junot Díaz.

I believe in books as only a deep reader can, but even I cannot imagine that any book would change any of our candidates. But just in case:

McCain: War Hero needs to read his fellow Vietnam vet Joe Haldeman’s novel “The Forever War.” McCain’s willingness to keep the nation in Iraq for, say, 100 years is a sign that for all his war hero posturing McCain has truly forgotten the young people we’ve damned to this folly we call Iraq. Perhaps Haldeman’s marvelous novel will crack Pharaoh’s heart. But don’t bet on it.

Hillary: What to recommend to a driven, brilliant, flawed woman who has no problem threatening to obliterate Iran, should they attack Israel? I recommend Peter Balakian’s “Black Dog of Fate,” in an attempt to cure her of her genocidal impulses. Armenians know all about being “obliterated,” and perhaps that nation’s suffering and miraculous survival will crack Pharaoh’s heart. But don’t bet on it.

Obama: A warrior-hearted black man running for president in a country that bends over backward to deny its white supremacist tendencies? Now here’s a cat who truly is an optimist, who really believes. For the honorable senator I recommend Leslie Marmon Silko’s “Ceremony,” a) because it’s a perfect novel about our country and b) because “Ceremony” is all about love and hope, and Senator Obama is going to need a ton of both to get through this one with his warrior-heart intact.

There are a bunch of other interesting people who weigh in, Scott Turow, Barabara Kingsolver and John Irving (and more.)

So GNB readers, I put the same question to you. If you could speak some truth to power and give our candidates each one book to read what would it be and why?