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Ramona and Her Mother (Ramona Quimby)

Ramona and Her Mother - Tracy Dockray, Beverly Cleary Goodreads.com's perhaps most respected reviewer, Dr. M of the department of theoretical physics and Pooh-studies, has perhaps written his most eloquent entry on the 1965 science fiction blockbuster, DUNE. M relates how it is the world, rather than the book, which has changed, such that if written today, the book would seem to be an endorsement of radical Islamic politicism, led by a charismatic leader, whereas at the time--and therefore now inaccessible to the younger reader, was the fact that the book was a sort of distillation of American Romanticism about the Arab world. There was once an America that rooted for the sand-dune dwelling nomads! Once Islamic revolt was an appealing possibility!

in my own central focus, military writing, a similar but not exactly corresponding phenomenon exists. the US BLACKHAWK DOWN and the UK BRAVE TWO ZERO are two works that are quintessentially 90s. in the 90s, special operations consisting of noble, highly-trained professionals at war against the environment, the mob of humanity, the ruthless seemed to be the tone of the future. then came 9/11. instantly these books were relegated to the back shelf of war non-fiction, as once again the idea of country vs. country, national invasion vs. national army, republic vs. republic became the seeming tone of the 2000s. even today in 2013 the possibility of an armed incursion into a secular republic does not seem incomprehensible. the idea of a small forces hostage-rescue mission or special forces decapitation mission would be less fascinating, less studied. Ancient Greek Philosophhers might warn us that therefore such an incident is all the more likely, but who knows, who can say...

well how does this relate to RAMONA AND HER MOTHER. well, possibly Democritius aside or the Heraclitus or whoever that proto-Stoic was, we're going to understand this work in reference to the fact that the reviewer is abroad, looking at Americana, or overworked and absurdist, who knows. or no, actually, the important thing is that Israelis and Arabs went like this:

1948 Arabs try to destroy Israel
1956 Israelis try to punish Egypt
1967 Israelis preemptively strike United Arabs
1973 Arabs suddenly shock Israel in the October War

now whether you believe the US airlift to Israel was a massive and material change in a regional "fairly fought" surprise war, or whether the notion of a world without Israel is something that makes your blood boil and causes you to consider enlistment in the IDF, the Arab reaction of the "oil embargo" was either (a) a fascinating case of life imitating art (Dune was published in 1965 and discussed 'spice embargo', or (b) the important predecessor reason for why the US economy fell into recession in 1974, why the 1976 Bicentennial celebrations were therefore a bit subdued, and MOST IMPORTANTLY, the cause of Beverly Cleary's "dark period" of Ramona 4 and 5.

the Quimbys are hit by a recession! this squeaky clean 50s family explores family strife and economic reversal! but the depression or loss suffered by the artist is ultimately the gain of the reader, for whom these two children's books remain readable, even in one's later years. yes, I guess, ultimately, Ramona 4 and 5 probably just about equal the rest of Cleary's output. it's tough. Ralph the motorcycle-riding mouse is also entertaining. but... then again, wouldn't I rather have Charlotte's Web and Stuart Little and Trumpet of the Swan than all of George Selden's output? hmm. tough questions. the famous "burning Louvre" problem seems to bring up conundrums as well even for kids' lit.

complicated, ,twisted individuals, I guess, are just better. hmmm wasn't there some female CEO who supported one obscure brand of German opera. maybe a more valued addition to the gang we call humanity than a thousand apple-pie baking moms.