Friday, February 19, 2010
Good news from the culture wars.
One of the few images of the man reputed to be B. Traven.
A little further internet searching has turned up a few books in print by B. Traven. I found a short biography of Ret Marut, the man most people believe was the real "B. Traven" here.
I also found a great little short story by Traven. It gives a nice feel for what Traven was all about. Traven's books are widely available in Spanish. In Mexico he is known and loved as a true friend to Los Indios. You can read the story here.
Traven was a pseudonym. He didn't want to be pointed out as the great author. He sincerely wanted to be a worker among workers and a bit of the salt of the earth. He knew he was an artist, but he saw that there are artists everywhere and he just wanted to make his art.
Now, the other day, I was walking past The Borders Book store at China Basin, across from the ballpark in San Francisco. It has to be the worst big city bookstore in the world. Its only a half hour walk from City Lights Books, one of the best bookstores in the English speaking world. Borders seems to be mostly a gift shop, but they do have displays of currently popular books. In the window they had a huge display of the works of Ayn Rand.
Rand was the polar opposite of Traven. She wanted her face on the cover of every book. She appeared in every media outlet that would let her in front of a camera. She thought she was a genius. One of the few geniuses in the world and set apart from everyone else.
Traven wrote simple, poetic prose about the lives of ordinary people. Rand wrote turgid, adjective laden woofing about the suffering of billionaires. I suppose it's only right that Rand should be given a prominent display in the worst bookstore in San Francisco.
Posted by Your driver at 1:48 PM