(Excerpt from The Book of Books)
An American Anarchist Paul Avrich
When I told Tamara I was reading about Voltairine de Cleyre she called her an American Hero and told me about seeing her books at Red Emma’s Books in Baltimore. Her call for a free society, 20 years before the Palmer Raids, echoing now 100 years, still seems radical. She demonstrated her spirit in a letter to a Senator Hawley after he said he’d pay $1,000 to shoot an anarchist:
You may by merely paying your carfare to my home (address below) shoot at me for nothing. I will not resist. I will stand straight before you at any distance you wish me to, and you may shoot, in the presence of witnesses. Does not your American commercial instinct seize upon you this as a bargain? But if payment of the $1,000 is a necessary part of your proposition, then when I have given you the shot, I will give the money to the propaganda of the idea of a free society in which there shall neither be assassins nor presidents, beggars nor senators.
Angela says it’s silly. But I can’t stop pointing out coincidences. She said Think of all the authors who didn’t die while you were reading their books. Ashley expressed a more macabre idea: what if every author died when you finished his book? Nevertheless, Paul Avrich.
Jimmy Jazz has edited the Pirate Enclave Zine since 1999. He is the writer of six novels: The Sub, House of the Unwed Mother, The Cadillac Tramp, Rube Goldberg Suicide Machine, Where Life is Inappropriate and Home Despot. His latest work is called The Book of Books.