Evidently I timed my drive into work this morning JUST right, because the last full story I heard on NPR (via Chicago Public Radio, WBEZ – woohoo!) was about Banned Books Week.
The whole thing was fascinating, but what really caught my ears was a statement made by Judith Krug of the American Library Association:
“They’re not afraid of the book; they’re afraid of the ideas,” says Krug. “The materials that are challenged and banned say something about the human condition.”
That coincided very nicely with what I was wondering while I was creating some of my spotlight posts. For some of the books I am featuring this week, at least, I wondered how much of the negative reaction towards the book was caused by specific instances of racism, sex, violence, language, or witchcraft, and how much is because some of these books challenege worldviews and highlight serious injustices. What do you think? Are most books banned because they are dirty or innappropriate, or because the idea in them scare people? Are those ‘won’t somebody please think of the children!?!’ passages what jump out at people, or do they go looking for those portions of the book, to find an excuse for hating it?
Anyway, enough of that tangent (although I’m very interested to hear people’s thoughts about those questions in the comments). The story went on to talk about how and why “Grapes of Wrath” was banned, particularly in Kern Country, California, when it first came out, using part of Rick Wartzman’s new book “Obscene in the Extreme” to discuss the situation in Kern County (Mr. Wartzman or Mr. Wartzman’s publishers/publicists, if you happen to be reading this, I REALLY want to read and review “Obscene in the Extreme”).
Overall, fascination story. You can read the whole thing PLUS an excerpt of “Obscene in the Extreme” here.