Alice asks Google.
Google responds! “The Best Writers of All Time.” Top 10: Nothing but dead white guys! Figures.
Alice imagines the Board of the Best Writers convening – a gathering of the shambling dead, their flesh rotted, mummified, or blasted off entirely, so that they droop as inert skeletons, mouths hanging open in a slackjawed grin. Their conversation consist of nothing but silence or wordless groans. They hunger only for the brains of living writers.
The upside? Once you’re rotten, nobody knows what colour your skin was.
Or do they?
The thing about dead writers (usually dead white writers) is that there’s more of them every minute. Then, in Litican there’s Book Pope with his Writing Cardinals, choosing who among the noble, rotting dead gets a spot at the Best Writer Round Table. And based on that, there’s always someone out there trying to guilt-trip Alice into reading something she doesn’t really want to read, but if she doesn’t, she won’t be “genteel” and “well-read” and “cooltivated”.
Well, screw you, Book Pope. Alice has long since decided that she will read what she will read. To keep up with the canonised white guys, plus all the hot new white guys, plus everything in between, would be to suicide under a tottering mountain of printed word.
Alice does like recommendations. She does like it, when someone points out to her something that might be worth reading. But she hates obligation. Obligation is, all too often, just a veiled attempt of trying to boss Alice around.
History is too full of text for even full-time historians to make sense of it. For Alice, to feel guilt over things she has not read is senseless – akin to feeling guilt over the fact that you can’t be a competitive swimmer, sharpshooter, figure skater, hockey player, discus thrower, chess master, and ski wrestler all at the same time.
On the other hand, ignorance isn’t bliss, either.