The Republic of Dreams and other essays Review – Jim Bennett
Social commentary in 50 essays. Not for the faint of feint. This is serious American introspection.
As always, do not let my star count override your judgement of content. More on the stars, counting, and my rating challenges later. My task here is to explain what I saw in this work.
There are many powerful statements made by Beck here. I don’t agree with all of them, and expect that, like me, you will be forced to rethink many of your ‘given’ facts.
For example, in What Level Destruction, we find this: “The concept of privacy in public is contradictory.” Beck thinks more CCTV in places like parks would help protect the weak, including children. Hard to argue against that one.
Beck’s view of homelessness needs its own comment. Buy the book and turn to this page.
Beck is a serious critic of the arts as they exist in the USA today. He says, correctly imho, that publication need surpasses quality. In The Evolution of Poetry, we find this: “Consequently, much of the effort to publish poetry by income oriented editors encourages poets who value the arbitrary acceptances beyond any meaningful worth.”
Beck is worried about the arts again, In Where Have All the Classics gone, where we find this: “This was an ill-considered collaboration between the actor’s union, an organization characterized by 95% professional unemployment of its members, and producers.”
Cynical? In Revive Our Theatre Audiences, this: “Overly enthusiastic response is basically an expression of self-approval for participation in cultural affairs.”
And finally, Beck takes on the NRA and the ubiquitous gun culture. In Why We Don’t Need Background Checks to Purchase Guns, this: “The opportunity to mow down a deer with a burst of automatic fire is inherent in the fundamental values of America.”
Social commentary is often biased, short-sighted, sometimes even ranting. Beck has surpassed this by a very long stride. Roughly equal to best in genre? Right on. Five stars, and extremely recommended.
Kindle Book Review Team member.