I hope it's not breaking protocol for me to post about Silence before our good hostess does. I think that part of a discussion of books can involve confronting one's prejudices about a book, and so I'm going to confess that I'm rather afraid of Silence.
Years ago, Before Children, I worked at Barnes and Noble as a shelver. (This was my day job, you understand; in the evenings I was a production assistant and assistant stage manager at a theatre, although I was coming to the realization that being pregnant and stage managing were not really compatible occupations.) One morning I was shelving fiction, and one of the books on my cart was Silence. I considered it a perk of the job that I could flip through books pretty much at my leisure as long as I got the work done, and so without knowing anything about the book I paged through Silence.
I won't give any spoilers here. I can't; it's been so long and I glanced through it cursorily enough not to have a great grasp of the plot or recall much aside from a few incidents that struck me. But I've avoided the book ever since. The blurb on the back will tell you that the book is about the persecution of Christians in 17th century Japan. I don't want to confront that. I don't want to think about suffering, or martyrdom, or scariness. Many novels have frightening content, but I can block it out as not affecting me. Suffering for the faith, not so much. That's one of the reasons I've never re-watched The Passion of the Christ -- it's too intensely real for me to bear.
I'm glad that Silence is the chosen book, because now I'll have to read it and see what it's really about. Perhaps it won't be frightening at all; perhaps I'll cry as I read. But at least I'll stop judging the book by its cover. It's time to grow up.
Western Civ II Talk
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