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The Fourteenth of September > Second Anniversary Relevancy

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message 1: by Rita (last edited Sep 16, 2020 10:12AM) (new)

Rita Dragonette | 22 comments Hi everyone, so glad to be here again. I hosted this forum exactly one year ago on the first anniversary of the publication of my debut novel, “The Fourteenth of September.” We had a great time talking about “living” historical fiction, the intention of my novel, and fun nostalgic stuff about its late ’60s–early ’70s setting.

Today marks the second anniversary of the book, and, wow, how the world changed. Now, the story increasingly reads more like contemporary versus historical fiction. My mind continues to get blown by the parallels that are often so dead-on, it is very far-out indeed. Full circle. What would my character Judy say about today? Let’s find out.

Over the week, let’s share what thoughts and emotions bubble up as we look back then and now, and be glad that historical fiction gives us a way to step into the shoes of the past, not only to imagine what we would have done in Judy’s situation, but what Judy might do in ours. And more.

I’ll share what I think is interesting and provocative and ask you to comment away on the content I post and any other topics you’d like to discuss.

There will be a book giveaway at the end of the week, to be drawn from the pool of those who sign up for my mailing list sign up and who comment by end of day 9/18. So, sign up if you haven’t already, and let’s hear from you.

AND, there is an anniversary special on the ebook version of the novel. Through January 19, ebooks are only $.99. So, if you haven’t had a chance to read “The Fourteenth of September,” now’s the best time. Bring it up on your ereader and read along as we discuss it all this week.

Let’s start with the mind-blowing stuff. Recently, I’ve been hearing from all kinds of readers who are asking me what I think about what’s going on in the world, based upon the story in “The Fourteenth of September.” One reader, who bought the book at a book fair over a year ago, sent me an email and told me, “The book gets more relevant by the hour.”

As a writer, I was happy to hear it (writers “kill” to stay relevant), but as a human who lives in the world, it did make me angry; as a member of the generation who was going to change the world, it made me sad and filled with regret.

The parallels between the world Judy faced and today are pretty clear, but let’s look at the broad strokes. There wasn’t a pandemic, but there was a war—both overwhelmingly destructive events that were poorly handled. We did have an impeachable president with a loose relationship with the truth and the rule of law, a polarized country, and massive inequality. We were sure there would be a revolution, anyone remember that? It seemed farfetched, just some off-the-rails radical-speak we really didn’t mean, like “off the pigs.”

Until Kent State. Then the situation was so bad that when we saw our peers murdered on television, we didn’t think it could get worse and there just might be a revolution after all.

It’s impossible not to be reminded of it when watching the real-time assaults on George Floyd, Jacob Blake, and others. I hear “complicit,” “revolution,” and the phrase “it won’t be quiet,” and my lips remember how to yell those words. I still feel the rage, but also such sadness that after all this time problems we thought were so close to being solved are here before us, all over again, and far worse for having been swept under the rug for so many years. Similarly, the effects of the Vietnam War didn’t go away because we refused to talk about it—but the lessons did: the fatiguing, draining, hamster wheel of history.

And let’s admit, the remedy has always been hard. Activism is and has always been complicated. When you hit the streets it’s because you’ve tried all the proper channels to no avail and found yourself powerless, and rage and reason need to balance. There are always differences about how to turn message into action to where the point can get lost, and the only thing that’s heard is the sound of breaking glass.

Unfortunately, actions almost always speak louder than words. “The Fourteenth of September” recounts what happened on a campus the night of Kent State, and the nights after. And why an action that should have ended the war instead made it last another five years. A chill goes down my spine when I think of Judy’s time compared to today.

Anyone else feel like this?


message 2: by Amanda (new)

Amanda (drpowell) | 376 comments Yes! The historian in me never fails to be shocked by history repeating itself in such stark ways. I often think, how are we still here and not better!


message 3: by Rita (new)

Rita Dragonette | 22 comments Right on, as we used the say. I really think it's the eternal generational push-pull that's been going on forever. Those dealing with an issue in the current time never think anyone's experience from before can possibly relate. Just as we said the same thing to our parents/forebears.

As in all things, there are commonalities among the differences. If everyone could just stop talking AT each other and listen. There is wisdom in experience even if the end result wasn't perfect. Changes in history are SLOW. Imagine how long it will take to repair what's going on today? We can keep starting over fresh and make the same or similar mistakes, or we can accept history as a teacher and those who have been though "living" history and still around as instructional. And I'm from the "don't trust anyone over 30" generation. We've mellowed into at least some wisdom.


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