Cannonball Read IV

A bunch of Pajibans reading and reviewing and honoring AlabamaPink.

ScruffyRube’s #CBR4 Review #1: Little Brother by Cory Doctrow

Revolutions are exciting, enticing, amazing opportunities, a chance to change yourself and your society, and as 2011 showed even the most entrenched of systems and succumb to arevolution (everybody point and laugh at Hosni Mubarak and Mumar Ghadaffi). But I wonder sometimes, can I still be a revolutionary? I’m almost 30. I get my salary from the government. I am, in the eyes of many students, THE MAN. For the characters in my first book of 2012, I’m nothing but “a normal.”

Cory Doctrow’s Little Brother is as principled and absolute as a case for revolution can be. Set among hacker teens in San Francisco, the book bubbles over with ideological fervor. After a terrorist attack paralyzes the Bay Area and opens the door to a flood of “anti-terrorist programs” that impinge on civil liberties, it falls to a group of dedicated freedom fighters (led by narrator Marcus Yallow) to use the internet in order to save America’s endangered ideals. The whole thing reads like a tech-savvy Les Miserables narrated by the Millenial generation’s Holden Caulfield.

If that excites you–fantastic, I’m sure you’ll love this book. Unfortunately, I wasn’t fond of Salinger’s smug teenage angst-riddled protagonist–so for me, the tenor of the narration undermined the revolutionary principles. The smug superiority of the psuedo-Holden Marcus, seemed underwhelming given the gravity of the situation. Sure, I found a few clarion calls to arms, but they were nearly drowning in a sea of self-important indignation, sophomoric titillation and convoluted philosophy that supported a wanton endangerment of loved ones rather than reasonable, rational action.

Perhaps I can’t appreciate Little Brother for the same reasons I couldn’t appreciate Catcher in the Rye: it’s the story of a generational awakening told by those who are living it, not dispassionately analyzing it from an English teacher’s armchair. You could no more ask Marcus to take a deep-breath and think about this rationally, than you could ask the resistance fighters of Benghazi to just give it some more time. I missed my chance to revolt and now I can only examine the revolutions of others–I must live the sad life of “a normal”.

Or…perhaps not. Perhaps my resolutions can become revolutions. It may be too daunting to change the world by myself, but if I resolve to change something here, something now, then perhaps it will lead to similar changes for others. If, as that old revolutionary Mahatma Gandhi said, “you must be the change you wish to see in the world,” then I can encourage quiet, unassuming, personal revolutions; while people like Marcus lead the noisy, militant, public revolutions. Each kind can work well, and while I know which kind I prefer, I would never dissuade others from pursuing their own.

(You can read this within the context of my larger ramblings on life  by clicking here)

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