American writer Katakis’ book polemic about US
American writer-photographer Michael Katakis has come out with a book highly polemical about the US, which he calls “a store disguised as a country”
New Delhi: American writer-photographer Michael Katakis, who also manages Ernest Hemingway’s literary estate, has come out with a book highly polemical about the US, which he calls “a store disguised as a country”.
“A Thousand Shards of Glass” is a visceral and eviscerating lament for the US, the country Katakis loved but can no longer bear to live in. He is currently based in Paris. The essays, letters and journal entries in the book were written as a farewell to the country he loves still, and to his late wife.
According to Katakis, the real America is a place obsessed with religion but not ethics, with law, not justice. “For over a half century, America has been a store disguised as a country,” he says.
“It is neither the democracy nor the capitalist society touted by corporations, politicians and the media, who perform their own kabuki dance of pretend objectivity when in reality they’re another cog in the corporate state, dependent on its largesse. What is most disturbing, however, is the wilful indifference and arrogance that has now made many Americans comfortable with injustice, both at home and abroad,” he says.
In the book, published by Simon and Schuster, Katakis terms the US as the ‘United States of Salesmen’ where it “matters little what is in one’s heart”.
Questioning about the way of life in the US, he says it is the “verbal, animated gestures of patriotism and faith, no matter how insincere, which are the measure of one’s ‘Americaness’ today”.
He says “America’s capacity for self-delusion is equalled only by its hypocrisy, which for decades has allowed us, without a hint of irony, to lecture other nations on human rights while torturing people in our custody.
“America has long spoken of democratic values while working tirelessly during the 20th century and before to thwart democratic movements and elected governments that have not coincided with our national interests, which has often meant nothing more than forcible corporate access to other people’s property.”
His essay “Dying the American Way” is about the medical insurance sector in the US and insurance related hassles related to his wife’s treatment until her death in 2012. His wife Kris L Hardin, a reputed anthropologist, died after a five-year battle with brain cancer.
“The American medical business is best described as a giant machine with a million moving parts. Each one of those million parts is owned by a different entity, most of who do not communicate with the other because they are in competition and thus adversial,” he writes.
He says “promises made prior to an illness quickly evaporate at the most desperate of times to reveal a labyrinth of conditions, ever-changing rules and small print that not only fails to soothe or elucidate but terrifies instead.”
He cites several incidents when he had to face a lot of problems while settling insurance claims regarding his wife’s treatment.
One of the essays in the book “Thanks for the Dance, Mr Vidal” is sort of a tribute to Eugene Luther Gore Vidal, the American writer known for his essays, novels, screenplays, and Broadway plays.
The book also has the text of a letter Katakis wrote to President George W Bush on December 1, 2010, expressing his disappointment over unfolding of events after 9/11.