Wednesday, May 03, 2006

scientologists and pedophiles

While strolling through the Festival of Books, my friend and I came upon a man from the Galaxy Press booth, throwing what appeared to be decks of cards to people walking by. I already have a favorite deck of cards, but A. tracked back to catch one, only to turn and run when she realized they were Scientology cards. This, of course, made me determined to take a deck home. As you can see above, each card is bedecked with a cover of L. Ron Hubbard's pulp fiction "classic," Masters of Sleep. The deck itself is an advertisement for the subscription-only series of all Hubbard's pulp fiction, which can be ordered for $12 a pop. The face of the cards lists brief synopses, such as "THE TRAMP by L. Ron Hubbard: Doughface Jack acquires phenomenal mental powers after a brain operation. He can instantaneously heal or kill, or make the old young. And goaded on by a beautiful woman, he is propelled toward the ultimate seat of power." I was always under the impression that contemporary Scientologists were not rushing to highlight Hubbard's literary origins and fondness for fictionalization, but I guess I was wrong.

With the devil in my purse, I moved on to see Joyce Carol Oates in conversation with Michael Silverblatt. I've seen JCO once before in New York, and each time, I am struck by her slight frame and charmingly quirky voice and worldview. She read a short story titled "Small Avalanches" from what she referred to as her "tombstone," High Lonesome: Stories 1966-2006. The story seemed to be a variation on "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" A young girl is first tormented by a sexual predator and then taunts him as he falters in the chase up a rocky hill and possibly has a heart attack. Oates's reading was pretty mesmerizing, and then she chatted with Silverblatt and answered questions from the audience. She was gracious even in the face of some bozo who wondered whether we would later discover her books were actually all written by a committee of men.

All in all, another excellent festival.

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