Andy Warhol is everywhere. That sentence is everywhere. Andy’s fame has lasted longer than his predicted 15 minutes of world-wide fame for all of us. But one place he’s currently not to be found is on the New York Times bestseller list, which is full of Sarah Palin’s Going Rogue, already topping the million mark, according to the CSM’s tomatoes and books review.
What is fame? These days fame appears to be some light travelling in a motor home coach across the malls of America. The ubiquitous mall is where we might all go to “look for America,” as Simon and Garfunkel sang.
But a book purchased is not always a book read, as a review of our own bookcase shows. There sits Nabokov’s Ada, added to the stack decades ago and still not cracked, and McEwan’s Atonement, a paperback picked up at a garage sale last summer, the first few pages read a few times. Still, most do show signs of reading’s wear and tear. Our 1966 Love’s Body is falling apart – we’ll need to replace it soon.
We would like to think that the teens with their moms in lines at the malls to get Sarah’s book autographed will actually read it, but as Flannery O’Connor said: “I would be most happy if you had already read it, happier still if you knew it well, but since experience has taught me to keep my expectations along these lines modest, I’ll tell you that this is the story of a family of six which, on its way driving to Florida, gets wiped out by…” some misfit’s ill-tossed tomato. For “Words can be overlooked,” P. G. Wodehouse said; “But tomatoes cannot.”
The word value, often abused, as in “family values,” or “good, old fashioned ‘Good Country People’ values,” means nothing but what we desire, what we want. And what we want, as individuals and as communities, isn’t always what’s good for us.
Reading is good for us, but we doubt that many of the millions who have purchased Sarah’s book want reading. It takes longer than 15 minutes to read a book. Still, we hope they do read the book. We wish the book well, for in the midst of the Reading Crisis, it’s a rose in winter. We don’t want to read Sarah’s book; but we hope that the millions of shoppers who did buy it do read it – such is our faith in reading; such was Andy Warhol’s faith in art.