banned books

Celebrating Literature: Banned Books Week

banned

“There must be something in books, something we can’t imagine, to make a woman stay in a burning house; there must be something there. You don’t stay for nothing.” — Fahrenheit 451

From September 22-28, if you don’t already do so on a regular basis, celebrate the freedom to read with Banned Books Week. To get an idea of what books are being banned, the American Library Association maintains a map of the US of where books have been challenged and/or banned since 2007.

View Book Bans and Challenges, 2007-2011 in a larger map

There is also a category on Acid Free Pulp, which organizes the posts that are concerned with Banned Books (when I remember to tag them). Take a look here.

Advertisements

the South Carolina censorship of Alan Moore’s Neonomicon

  1. Are you ready for some good ole fashion censorship? Apparently, a 14-year-old somewhere in South Carolina checked-out Neonomicoma graphic novel by Alan Moore, from her local library. When her mother took a gander she saw a bad bad word (which hasn’t been divulged to the public) and filed a formal complaint contesting having the book in circulation. Even after the internal advisory committee recommended the book be returned to its shelf, library führer, Beverly James had another opinion,

Library officials tell us an internal committee voted to keep the book, but library Executive Director Beverly James decided to pull it off the shelves. James tells 7 On Your Side, “I can override their recommendation…I’m ultimately responsible.” James adds that she did not feel the book’s content was appropriate for the library system’s collection.

According to the library, the graphic novel was shelved in the adult book section of the library and the 14-year-old had an adult library card. Of course, the mother is allowed to not think the content of a book about “two FBI agents, Brears and Lamper, investigating a series of ritual murders. An exploration of the works of HP Lovecraft, it looks at issues of race and sexuality and contains a brutal rape scene” appropriate for her kid but she should drive over to the library and drop the book off into the depository and be done with it. We all have to deal with things we don’t like on a daily basis, but we just carry on. We should have the choice whether we want to read this book or not. Even the library shelved it in the adult section indicating that its target audience was not for children.

Huck Finn & Robot Jim

After flying and travelling this week, I feel a bit wonky and definitely sleepy. However, I couldn’t help but get a giggle at this. Banned Books Week pointed me in the direction of this silly youtube video.  Apparently, the two producers also have compiled a version of Huck Finn with the “n-word” taken out and replaced with the “r-word.” You can find a sample, download the e-book, or watch the book trailer on their website. But as silly and ironic as their project is, I can’t help but do the proverbial head-slap over the fact that there are people out there who actually want to censor Mark Twain’s classic.

Arizona Must be Bizarro World, Right?

I don’t even understand this AT ALL! What’s going on in Arizona?!? Can anyone make sense of this?!?!? I don’t have enough question mark/exclamation point combinations for this one:

As part of the state-mandated termination of its ethnic studies program, the Tucson Unified School District released an initial list of books to be banned from its schools today. According to district spokeperson Cara Rene, the books “will be cleared from all classrooms, boxed up and sent to the Textbook Depository for storage.”

[…]

Another notable text removed from Tucson’s classrooms is Shakespeare’s play “The Tempest.” In a meeting this week, administrators informed Mexican-American studies teachers to stay away from any units where “race, ethnicity and oppression are central themes,” including the teaching of Shakespeare’s classic in Mexican-American literature courses.

I remember in public high school, there were classes offered like AP European History and a Women’s Studies class. I’m sure no one has thought of removing these offerings.

According to the Huffington Post:

Less than two months away from the 140th anniversary of the opening of the first public school in Tucson, founded by Mexican immigrant and legendary Tucson mayor Estevan Ochoa in 1872, the nationally celebrated Mexican American Studies teachers and their college-bound students will be removed from Mexican American history and literature courses and placed into unofficially approved “American” literature and history courses, including European History.

Okay. Let’s take breather and watch a clip from Seinfeld to cool our jets.

The Giver by Lois Lowry

I read The Giver around the time it was first published (~1995). I remember really enjoying this novel. I recently decided to revisit it because in the past few weeks, I saw a handful of bloggers writing reviews of it. The book is almost 20 years old and some people were now just hearing of it.

Give me a moment to backtrack. Looking back at my education, I feel very lucky that I attended schools where book banning wasn’t even a thought in anyone’s mind (teachers, students, or parents). I had no grasp of that concept. In fact, many of the required readings were books that are frequently on banned book lists : The Catcher in the Rye, To Kill a Mockingbird, 1984, etc. etc. We even read Animal Farm in middle school.

I assume that these aforementioned bloggers were adults and lamented the fact that they were just being exposed to this book now.

Plain and simple, The Giver by Lois Lowry is fantastic. If you haven’t read it yet, you can take a look at the beginning available at  Google books.

As I re-read the book, I was amazed at how much of the entire narrative I remembered. I even remembered that Jonas was described with light eyes while the rest of the community had dark eyes. In one review, the writer asked if anyone knew what happened at the end of the novel….so, if you don’t want any bits spoiled for you, stop reading this and go finish the book immediately. Someone in the comment section said that in the past few years, Lowry made this into a somewhat loose trilogy and Jonas appears in the final book. I have no idea what these two other books are about but this is the way I see the ending of The Giver (okay, for real, last chance to avert eyes). After experiencing all of the past memories from a time that precedes the Sameness, some of these memories are elicited when Jonas is starving and exhausted and wandering through that unknown territory. The sled, the lights, the family in the house–all in his mind, but at least, now Jonas can feel and love.

While writing this, I have decided to add a new category: Banned Books. Hopefully, I’ll be able to identify a book I’ve read as one that is so often challenged and put this nifty little image at the bottom of the post to link back to any banned books I’ve written about.