Saturday, September 11, 2010

Book Burning & Book Banning

Day 215 of the "What are you reading, and why?" project and, ironically, a bunch of people in Stockton, Missouri are reading The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian, by Sherman Alexie, because it has been banned in the public school. The controversy has generated a lot of interest in what was chosen as a good "community read" in the first place, but opposed by some parents and students who were offended by its "true diary" content, the life of a teenage boy.

Learned all this thanks to the New Pages blog link to this news article in the Springfield, MO News-Leader (which, alas, has ads).

So, while some people are not reading the book, it has turned out to be a community read, after all.

Reminds me of all the banned books my students looked into for a research paper assignment and how interested they got in what was banned, or proposed for banning, and why. Reminds me that one of them was Johnny Got His Gun, by Dalton Trumbo, which we hardly ever have at Babbitt's, because of its persistent popularity, but which I put on the Selected New Arrivals shelf by the door this week.

Meanwhile, that pastor in Gainesville, Florida (one of my hometowns, the one with the alligators) has vowed never to burn the Koran, thank goodness. He's flown to New York, and perhaps that is a good place for him to be on this particular day.

Let us hope someone, this sad, fine day, is reading Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury. (I've linked to a large print edition because Pastor Jones appears to be an older man, who might prefer it.)

And let us hope someone is reading some O. Henry today, his birthday. To circle back round to the public schools, I read "The Gift of the Magi" with my daughter for her English class last year. She likes to read it herself and then, as a way to study it, have me read it aloud to her, so, as I said way back when I started this what-are-we-reading-and-why project, another area of the brain is stimulated. Eyes stimulate one main area, ears another....

And O. Henry allows us to circle back to irony, the opening irony here, the central ironies of our lives, our ongoing community read.

P.S. The books-are-cooked image comes courtesy of USC Law School, where my brother learned to be a lawyer!

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