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May 12, 2005

I'm Pretty Sure He Doesn't Mean Me, Darnit

by Ron Hogan

In a PW story, Salman Rushdie attributed the full houses at many of last month's PEN World Voices events to an "enormous amount of blogging." Frankly, I feel like I should have done more at the time; oh, I know I plugged it a couple days beforehand, but I didn't tell you about what it was like to see and hear the events. You can get some feel for it from the pictures and sound bites on their website, but they don't have some of the best bits of "The Power of the Pen: Does Writing Change Anything?", which was the biggest thing I got to see (and I was very lucky that press seats opened up at the last minute). Frankly, I found Margaret Atwood nowhere near as interesting as Ha Jin or Shan Sa--though I am glad to see the archivists preserved Jonathan Franzen's comment that of course writing changes things and not always for the better. "For every Germinal," he pointed out, "there's a Protocol of the Elders of Zion." It's too bad they didn't also include Woye Soyinka's thoughtful reflections on the place of literature in the context of social change; he was one of my favorite commenters that evening. Anyway, if you weren't there, knock yourself out in the archives.

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