manifesto ever written by a presidential candidate, show-biz memoirs, Howard Zinn’s People’s History of the United States ... Just think of it. Fifty Shades of Gray turns to ash, Judith Krantz melts away like a bad facelift, The Greening of America glows orange. A Bonfire of Balderdash! The fire will never gutter and go out. In the glow, you might
2. FAHRENHEIT 451 by Ray Bradbury As a writer, even one as optimistic as me (“ Now there’s something you don’t see every day, Chauncey ...”), I struggle to find the silver lining in the unnamed city of Ray Bradbury’s dystopic imagination. The temperature of the title, of course, refers to the point at which paper catches fire. Writers tend
catch a fleeting smile cross the face of even the most ardent Utopian.
3. BRAVE NEWWORLD by Aldous Huxley Yes, Huxley’s dystopia, here called “World State,” is full of nightmares. We reel in horror at the genetically modified humans hatched from artificial wombs, the operant conditioning in place of
to frown on book-burning, which seems to be the novel’s primary activity and the defining function of its government. But what did I say about frowns? I can turn even this one upside down if I think of Bradbury’s dystopia not as a writer, but as a reader . Let us stipulate that, like Bradbury’s hero Guy Montag, you can sock away copies of civilization’s great books and your own favorites beyond the reach of government firebugs. That leaves every bad book you can think of... A huge, towering conflagration fed by the collected works of Dan Brown, every
education, the destruction of family life and romantic love. Where in this manipulative hell could any silver lining be found? One word: soma. It’s even better than Victory gin. And it has fewer calories.
Andrew Ferguson is the author of Crazy U: One Dad’s Crash Course on Getting His Kid Into College . He is a former speechwriter for President George H. W. Bush and was one of the founding editors of The Weekly Standard.
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