Moving right along through February, the Winter Virtual Book Festival organized by Pages Promotions, LLC has covered genres from action and adventure to inspirational fiction, with non-fiction, poetry, short stories and memoir, in between. We’re in for a night of mystery on a freezing Monday evening.
Indie authors read from their books while readers match up the right book with its author for bragging rights on Facebook. Then Diana Plopa spins the “Wheel of Happiness” for great prizes donated by the authors.
You have to be present in the Zoom room to win. If you happen to find a gold, silver or bronze ticket in your book, you’re in for more prizes such as Kindle Fire without ads and more books and swag.
PopUp Book Shop
Visit our PopUp Book Shop during the festival at:
Excerpt from “Greenwich Meridian Memoir”
Here is an excerpt of what I read on Friday evening from my new book “Greenwich Meridian Memoir”, chapter “The Haves and The Have Nots.” This reading was five minutes.
Everyone had the right to work. There was no such thing as unemployment. If you were unemployed for more than six weeks, you went to jail. Since the economy was regulated and planned, there was always work, whatever work and any work at any given time. However, if you wanted a good job, you needed connections or my mom’s long arm.
That was balanced out by having to stand in long lines for basic items such as toilet paper and laundry detergent. However, college education was free, along with healthcare for all and free daycare.
Travel was a different ball game based on your profile. We each had a profile ever since we were old enough to join the Socialist Youth Union at the age of 14. The profile also contained information about your parents. Then volunteer hours on socialist projects were added to the profile. At 18, you were expected to become a member of the Czechoslovak Communist Party and get your red membership card. Soon the profile info started to add up in your favor or against you.
Certain things were unacceptable like if your family was a member of the bourgeoisie, royalty or if they owned land, you would definitely go nowhere. Based on the bizarre profile criteria, if they were good, you could go to Yugoslavia or maybe somewhere west, if you got the exit visa.
If your profile was bad like mine, because we left the country illegally for the USA, you sat at home. The profile thing continues to puzzle me to this day.
Like in Hitler’s Germany nothing was ever forgotten or forgiven. That was in an era before computers. The whole socialist machinery was like a self-fulfilling prophecy. You always got what you didn’t wish for, but somebody else wanted it for you.
“Oh, we just wanted the best for you,” a voice would say.
“How do you know what’s best for me?” I asked.
“Socialism never sleeps,” the voice would persist. “We know what’s best for the country. Look at all the improvements in the last 40 years.”
Banners hung on buildings proclaiming the “Building Successes of Socialism” and the bright future for the socialist youth like me.
Bringing up properly the communist youth was very important to the regime, which feared intellectuals. On the other hand, the system put the working class known as proletariat on a pedestal. The most famous slogan was: “Proletariat of all countries, unite.” I think it was a Lenin quote.
Interestingly enough, some five decades later Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg achieved the same goal without the communist or socialist propaganda of uniting. Four billion people now volunteer their information on the Facebook social media platform. I don’t think the communists realized that you cannot force unity or freedom. Just like you cannot force or enforce peace.
Yet, thousands in Czech Republic now still yearn for the old socialist regime that provided certainties such as: shelter, food, water, jobs and the sun in the morning, and the moon at night.
The communists even claimed they could command the rain and the wind. I know they couldn’t, but the fact they claimed that showed their infinite arrogance deeply rooted in the propaganda.
But there were also true communists like our late neighbor. And I will change his name for all purposes. Let’s call him Mr. Rudi Vlk. Rudi, in his early 40s, went through political school while working. He never missed a communist party meeting. Rudi lived the party philosophy. He studied the Marxist-Leninist traditions and its pillars. He never cheated, lied or stole. But, in the process of it all, he got ulcers.
Needless to say, that honest communist Rudi was in the minority. Most people who joined the party had an ulterior motive. This labeled them as career communists like my second removed Uncle Henry.
There were other career communists in the female ranks as well. Many teachers became communists to protect their teaching jobs. Although communists did not like the intelligence class, they were fond of socialist education free of any religious influence. All religious schools shut down, along with the confiscation of the church estates.
To climb up on the company ladder, you had to be a member of the communist party. There were no discussions about that. Uncle Henry went through the same process as Rudi, only he lied, cheated and stole for the benefit of the party and his own.
The two breeds of communists hated each other, even though they often sat at the same tables, and in the same meetings. Aunt Anna’s favorite joke went along the following lines. A man and a woman have a discussion in a coffee shop.
“I know you,” says the man.
“Oh, yes? How?” asks the lady.
“We slept together,” the man answers.
“Excuse me, sir,” she turns red.
“Yes, in the same meeting last week in the boardroom,” the man laughs.
Register for tonight’s readings: Mystery
Pictured in the Zoom screenshot are authors: Diana Plopa, Emma Palova, Donny Winter, Jared Morningstar, Kate Mc Neal and Andrew Smith.
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