As long as books have been written, they have been banned. For being anti-establishment. For being filthy. For espousing the wrong religion. The epitome of this was the book burnings in Germany during the 1930s; however, many other countries have tried during the 20th Century, with greater or lesser success, to ban some books.
Today, attempts to ban books are more local affairs, and for the most part are rapidly squelched. Nonetheless, people keep trying – and others stand up for banned books and the voices that others seek to silence.
One effort to do so will be occurring at East City Books tomorrow, Tuesday September 27, from 6 to 8 PM. Seven local book lovers will be reading from works that have inspired them in some way. Most of the group – headed by Louis Bayard – are novelists, but there is also a short story author, a poet/playwright, a librarian and one who is charitably referred to as a ‘historian.’ (That would be me)
Bayard will be reading from Kate Chopin’s The Awakening. That’s her picture in the upper left at the top of this post. Ed Aymar, who has written mysteries, will be talking about Bret Easton Ellis’s American Psycho. Kathleen Wheaton, whose short stories have won awards, has selected Haroldo Conti’s Mascaro while poet/playwright Rose Solari will discuss possibly the most famous of banned books – Lady Chatterly’s Lover. David Swinson, mystery author, will discuss attempts to ban To Kill a Mockingbird while librarian David Quick will discuss Alison Bechdel’s graphic memoir Fun Home. I, in keeping with my role as a historian, will attempt to explain my affinity for Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States, and how it came to inspire me.
So come on by to 645 Pennsylvania Ave SE at 6 PM on Tuesday the 27th as we make something positive out of one of those destructive impulses that human society seems to come up with on a regular basis. You might even find a banned book that speaks to you.