Tuesday, September 29, 2009

It's banned book week!

That's right, here in the US, those of us who like civil liberties (the ones the Patriot Act left us with) are celebrating the right to read whatever the hell we want. None of you know it, but my laptop, the one I'm blogging on right now, has a sticker that reads "Everything I need to know about life, I've learned by reading banned books."

My last laptop had a sticker with the First Amendment on it. This one would too, if I could find one. Maybe for the next laptop.

So with this in mind, lets have a little meme-thingie. Go to the list of banned books from the American Library Association (it isn't extensive, but it hits the high points), pick your favorite, and discuss in whatever detail you like.

Here I go.

Well, heck, there are a couple in here I really like.

The Great Gatsby is a great book. A run-of-the-mill story line elevated to art by Fitzgerald's lyric writing. Of course it was Charleston that didn't like it. Those people are so uptight they squeak.

The Catcher in the Rye is probably the best stream-of-consciousness book I've ever read (Ulysses is okay but more confusing). There's real skill involved in how the writer gradually reveals WHY the protagonist is having a meltdown, and manages to make him sympathetic even as he's breaking laws and going nuts. Censored all over the place for profanity and all that bullshit. Bet this blog's more profane than that book ever was.

I've got no idea why the Nazis would be burning Call of the Wild, but then the Nazis were nutballs anyway. Loved Call of the Wild. At the time it was insanely original, and it's still pretty darn cool.

Anyone saying Lord of the Rings is Satanic should really read it first. Ditto for Harry Potter, who isn't on the list but has been burned all over the place.

In closing, I include a link to a news article about my new favorite Senator, Al Franken. (Franken was the comedian who ran for the Senate and narrowly won after months of recounts and hearings and bitching.) Last week the senate was having hearings over whether to extend the Patriot Act. Franken got up and read the Fourth Amendment to the guy from the Justice Department who was testifying. (The Fourth Amendment deals with protecting citizens from unlawful arrest and other government harassment, like, say, roving wiretaps.) Basically, Franken told the Justice Department that the Patriot Act is unconstitutional. (Which it is.) Everything stalled for a bit, then they rolled right over Franken and the hearing continued, but the point was made: the Patriot Act is unconstitional, and Franken had the guts to call them on it. Bravo.


amy said...

I haven't gotten through the whole list yet, but this cracks me up, pertaining to A Farewell to Arms:

"Banned in Italy (1929) because of its painfully accurate account of the Italian retreat from Caporetto, Italy."

Ban the book because it tells the truth, which just happens to make you look bad. I love Hemingway, by the way. Named my cat after him.

And Lady Chatterley's Lover? Totally got me hot in high school. :)

Louiz said...

very quick flick through - of the first 11, we did 7 at school. For exam type things.

Bunny Queen said...

Dang! I was pleased to see Franken win the Senate seat (both in November and more recently when he actually got to take his seat). Now I am really proud of him. Way to at least try to remind the political animal of what they *should* be doing in DC.

Emily said...

I graduated from high school before some of these had been written (1962). We were not supposed to read "Gone With the Wind" or "1984", because both were supposed to be poorly written popular-culture junk! So of course we all ran off to read them. ("Aimal Farm" was part of the curriculum.) I think there really is no faster way to gain wide readership than to ban a book.

I remember hearing that "Diary of Anne Frank" was banned in places where families didn't want their kids to know that other religions existed!

Shea said...

I so agree with you on this subject. Nothing makes me angrier than to be told I or my child are not allowed to read something. Or for that matter, that I shouldn't watch a movie. Anybody remember the hoopla over "Last Temptation of Christ"?

I've hated the Patriot Act since day one. Go Franken!

Georgi said...

Call of the Wild? A Separate Peace? Catcher in the Rye? All wonderful books that I loved and have read more than once. I cannot imagine banning books, what kind of closed mind wants to limit what people read? I have read a good portion of that list and loved most of them. they made me think. What a bunch of freaks!

TinkingBell said...

ve read just about every single one of these books - and many of them I studied at school - from grade 7 on up (starting with Of Mice and Men)
Yay for an Australian system where we are less likely to get hot under the collar about books (except under the late conservative government)

and Yay for Franken - I'm not inthe US, but I'd vote for him

and Yay again for my grade 4 teacher who , like my parents, encouraged me to read everything, and then borrowed my copy of The Thoughts of Chariman Mao. Good teachers can't be beat.

Galad said...

I used to always wear a t-shirt that said "Celebrate Freedom - Read a banned book" I was very popular at the library :-)

Alwen said...

Huckleberry Finn is often on those lists. And oh look! in 2004, the Captain Underpants series for being "sexually explicit". ? ? ? Um, I bought my kid a set of those a couple of years ago. They have fart jokes in them. Anyone who finds Professor Poopypants sexual - well, they need to get out more!

(Thanks for not letting me miss banned books week!)

Donna Lee said...

I've read most of those books (I avoid Hemmingway because I just don't like him) and I don't consider myself particularly super well-read. I read what I like and I resent being told I can't read something. And I struggled through Ulyssees (never again!) because a college professor I respected me told me it would change my life.

What I don't get is why people give power to books by banning them? Of course more people will read them if you tell them they can't.

Amy Lane said...

Call of the Wild? Banned by Nazis? I can see why it would be banned by right-wing Christians--it basically asserts that there is no God... I always love this week! (And I love Gatsby--I shouldn't. Like you said, it's sheer melodrama, but oooooohhh... it's just a word-gasm waiting to happen...)

Barbara said...

Oh, I just love Steinbeck and Vonnegut's books. My daughter established her own summer reading program years ago: read one "good" book, then you can read a "crap" book. I joined and that's when I dived headfirst into literature which I leavened with liberal doses of thrillers. Schizophrenic, yes, but it keeps things light-ish for summer reading. I still try to do it to this day. Can't have too much "good" reading, it'll make you stodgy, and too much "crap" will rot your brain.

verification word: haring--I'm haring off to read a book that pi$$es off a bunch of people.

I love the people who try to ban books; they give us contrarians so much to read!

Typesetter said...

I am commmenting here because I hit your post while I was websurfing and found very fun the facrt that many of those books here in italy are considered fir for junior readers. I have read the Italian translation in junior high in an unabridged edition targeted at junior readers, and The Great Gatsby, The CAtcher in the Rye and others were in our reading list at the High school for the English and American literature course (I studied foreign langauges in high school).
@Amy, please don't forget that in 1929 Italy was a Fascist dictatorship! Mussolini had been ruling this country for seven years already in 1929. And it wasn't like books got permitted to circulate that much. My grand-grandpa (despite having been only through two and a half years of school) used to read illegal books, but if found he would likely be jailed quite fast (considering that he wasn't in the Fascist party and had actually been a member of the Socialist and later Communist parties until 1922, when Mussolini took over).

Deana said...

funny that, I read most of these in high school. Hm.