where the writers are
Ban My Book! Please?
bibliomaniac
From Booklist: “Fade to Blue is Infinte Jest for teens!"
Amazon.com Amazon.com
Powell's Books Powell's Books

Wednesday, September 16, 2009Originally published on Author Bites

Sean Beaudoin was awesome enough to come back to Bites and ramble even awesomelier (get an English degree, then you can create cool words like me) on book banning for Ban This! Listen to what he has to say. Aside from being witty and funny, he's spot on right. And then go out and petition his books to be banned. He's begging you!

Please ban my book. Please?

Hey, I'm fine if you choose either one of them. Maybe Going Nowhere Faster because between flatulence jokes lies a hidden Marxist subtext plunging us all one step closer toward socialized medicine. Or maybe Fade To Blue because some enterprising wiccan chick just discovered if you read chapter six backwards a message from the Lord Of Darkness (Ryan Seacrest) is revealed.

Listen, at this point, if your book hasn't been banned somewhere in the world, you're probably not trying very hard. If Salman Rushdie hadn't had the old fatwa slapped on him, he never would have become a punchline on Seinfeld, let alone a household name. He'd still be a creaky academic with good reviews and mediocre sales. In fact, being banned is the new biceps tattoo and chopped Harley of cultural outlaw-ism. And I, for one, want in on this gang. I want to join the ranks of George Orwell, S.E. Hinton, Charles Bukowski, Jim Carroll, Ray Bradbury, Allen Ginsburg, Judy Blume, William Burroughs, D.H. Lawrence, Graham Greene, Kurt Vonnegut, and Nathaniel Hawthorne. We can all hang out, drink gallons of black coffee, quote Rimbaud at terrified locals, and roar around town in our matching leather pants.

The thing doesn't seem to have sunk in yet is that the forces of banning always lose. Always. If it takes six months or twenty years, they are eventually revealed as prudish, reactionary, closed-minded, and boring. The forces for censorship invariably have an agenda for restricting art that is wholly different than their stated intent, namely easing their personal fears or increasing their economic gain. It is rarely because the work itself is too dangerous. There's no such thing as dangerous art. It's easy to forget, after all, that when Richard Strauss' opera Salome was first performed in 1905, the audience TORE DOWN THE OPERA HALL because they were so scandalized. Now, Salome is used as the background music for dental exams and Flo-nase commercials. There is nothing at all that can be written, from de Sade to Kathy Acker, that is scarier than someone telling you that you can't read it.

A modern offshoot of banning is Oprah-ization. Just ask Johnathan Franzen. Of course, Big O's imperial nod toward The Corrections made him an unlikely celebrity and wealthy man, but it seems to have also handcuffed him as an author, and permanently placed him in the realm of pop artifact. There are some things worse than being reviled, and maybe being loved too strenuously is one of them.

Of course, other books tend to want to ban themselves. Like the latest remaindered tomes from Ann Coulter or Michael Moore, which fill the national consciousness with something legitimately distasteful: rants that are too stridently mean, too manipulative, too fact-malleable, and too cynically calculated to divide. But we need to protect books like these as much or more than Roth's or Nabakov's. The easiest targets tend to go quietly, but once they're gone, the circle of moronicism draws tighter around those that are actually worth fighting for.

And as the line between high and low culture shrinks ever further, to the point that Paris Hilton is as well known a fictional character as Holden Caulfield or Doctor Benway, it becomes harder and harder to find a subject matter that shocks, offends, or even just dribbles off into tedium. And while Janet Jackson baring her decolletage on national television was decried as the final blow to decency, every great book ever written has passages in it which would cause the very same contextually challanged whistle blowers to demand a bonfire in the streets. More likely, book banning lives with us now in a more insidious form: the quiet refusal to shock library shelves. Or an unwillingness to take on a fervent school board by assigning a controversial book. Banning is too easy to fight. Indifference is a much more difficult foe.

So ban me! Now! Soak down Fade To Blue with kerosene and hit your Zippo! I dare you!

Comments
8 Comment count
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Okay, I ban you! Consider

Okay, I ban you! Consider yourself chained, burned, locked up, glued shut...happy? ;)

Kate
www.marshallbooks.com

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Glued?

Thanks, Kate. Now, I need Oprah to love me and come full circle.

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Me too, Me too!

For whatever reasons you think your books should be banned, I also, hereby agree to ban them.

I hope my book will be banned, too. I tried very hard to be controversial. My self published effort didn't get into school libraries, anywhere. I guess that would be a good thing.

However, it is on Amazon.com and other online stores. Is that a bad thing? Maybe their censor board members haven't read it yet, or noticed the title.

At least, 'Orgasmic Catalog' is funny. Does humor count for anything?

I haven't read your books yet, but I trust you know they are really bad.....bad enough for a good read during a long, cold, Canadian winter? It's coming, soon.....winter that is.

By the way, I already live in a country with socialized medicine. That might seem horrific to some Americans, but actually, it's really great! You should try it.

It's especially good if you're one of those people who gets sick occasionally, and has the time to read a good banned book while recovering!

I guess some Americans never get sick or they just never want to have an excuse to read banned books.

Thanks for your courageous, personal account of moronic decision making.

As you wish, I truly hope your books will be banned!

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Socialism is good

That's great Wendy. I was really hoping to get some Canadians riled up over my stuff as well. I want a nice big book burning in downtown Medicine Hat.

Good luck with OC. Humor counts for everything.

-s

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Bans

Well, Mr. Beaudoin, all I can say is I know obscenity when I see it! My Zippo was issued to me when I was in the Marine Corps -- it has definitely seen service -- and when I snapped it shut after torching FTB it thunked down like a final curtain.

Of course, judging from your photo, you're a young guy -- so you probably have never heard of my great opus, "The Love Wizard", which was banned in 1961 when the 60's were still the 50's. Be careful what you pray for, pal. And in case anyone wants to know, I fully intend to re-write "The Love Wizard" some day when I can better remember it. Stayed tuned.

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Sean,

Hmmmm.... a book burning? What about something 'greener', like a book burial?

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Robert Jones......

Although obscenity is recognized and defined as "offensive in behavior, expression or appearance" or "something that is repulsive or offensive to the senses", I speculate that obscenity should be a very subjectively interpreted concept allowing adult individuals to be responsible for the purity of their own minds and the minds of their children.

After all, we are allowed to be responsible for our own bodies; why not our minds?

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Tis all about responsibility, Wendy, Wendy!

You are so right! That's precisely why they banned "The Love Wizard." I will rewrite it soon. By the way, I speculate that we should also be allowed to be responsible for our precious bodily fluids. Winter is coming here too. I'm ready. I've got a bunch of Beaudoin's books piled high right here by my Franklin stove and my trusty Zippo is full up with fluid and at the ready.