Thanks to Barney Rosset, the man behind Grove Press and theEvergreen Review
, we all got drunk on the road poetics of Jack Kerouac, blissed out on the ballsy cadence of Allen Ginsberg, and humbled by the witty domestic disputes of Tom Stoppard plays. Tonight, theWolfsonsian
kicks offBanned Books Week
(September 25 to October 2) with a screening ofObscene
, which chronicles the Grove House publisher's first amendment fights.
Before releasing indecent classics like Naked Lunch and Tropic of Cancer, Rosset's published the uncensored version of the D.H. Lawrence novel Lady Chatterley's Lover. The Postmaster General refused to send such smut through the mail, but the Court weighed in and said -- and we're paraphrasing here -- just deliver the mail and stop being such a freaking prude.
Next week, caress your hardbacks in recognition that our country doesn't burn or ban books anymore. If we did, the following 10 books would already be smoking embers as they were the most challenged titles in 2009. The list includes old standbys characters like Holden Caulfield and Boo Radley as well as some new surprises like gay penguin dads and a horny vampire named Edward Cullen.
According to the American Library Association and the Office of
Intellectual Freedom, these were the most challenged books in 2009:
1. ttyl; ttfn; l8r, g8r (series), by Lauren Myracle
Parents wanted these novels, written entirely in the style of instant
messaging, pulled off the shelves for nudity, sexually explicit,
offensive language, and drug references. Sounds like the all LOLs would be more irksome than any sexy talk.
2. And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
A cute book about snuggling penguin dads got conservatives all riled up. Candi Cushman, of Focus on the Family Action, said
the children's book "is very misleading and it's a very disingenuous,
inaccurate way to promote a political agenda to little kids. What
they're not telling kids is that the supposedly gay penguin who is the
star of this story later mated with a female penguin in real life." So there.
3. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
This 1999 novel was published by MTV and challenged for its references to
drugs, homosexuality, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit,
suicide, and being unsuited to age group.
After hearing about all the school controversy surrounding the
appropriateness of her book, Harper Lee sent $10 to the local paper,
suggesting the school board use it to go back to first grade and learn a
thing or two. Boo Radley's story is considered controversial for
instances of racism and offensive language.
5. Twilight (series), by Stephanie Meyer
How could a book written by a Mormon piss off religious types? Maybe they got the metaphors about all that sucking.
6. Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
In 1960, a teacher was fired for assigning this 1951 novel in class, and
between 1961 and 1982, itl was the most censored book in high
schools and libraries in the United States. Reasons? Holden says fuck a
Even though this was recently adapted into a Hollywood film, schools and
libraries attempted to ban the book for sexism, homosexuality, sexually
explicit, offensive language, unsuited to age group, drugs, suicide,
and violence. We wanted to ban the movie for bad acting.
8. The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things, by Carolyn Mackler
In February 2008, this 2003 book was removed from school libraries in
Colorado Springs, Colorado for being sexually explicit, having offensive language, and being unsuited
to age group. The banning was challenged by the National Coalition
Against Censorship. Then, everybody shook hands and just went skiing.
9. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
No. it's not just an Oprah film. Librarians keep getting complaints that
the 1982 novel was sexually explicit, had offensive language, and was
unsuited to age group.
10. The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
This 1974 young adult novel, according to some prudes, has too much
nudity, sexually explicit and offensive language, and was unsuited to age
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Obscenescreens at the Wolfsonian (1001 Washington Ave., Miami Beach) at 7 p.m. Admission is free. Call 305-535-2680 or visit www.wolfsonian.org.