Literary Quote of the Month

“For poems are not, as people think, simply emotions (one has emotions early enough)—they are experiences,” … Rilke, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Sunday Salon and Banned Books Week Wrap-up!


Welcome to the Sunday Salon! This is the day during the week where we get together and talk books! So grab a cup of joe, find a comfy chair and relax! What bookish things have you been doing this week?

How did your Banned Books Week go? Here are the books I covered this week...

On Tuesday, I wrote about Charlotte's Web by E.B. White, the beloved children's book that had talking animals upsetting the sensibilities of some parents who thought it was blasphemous. 

Wednesday, I wrote about Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, the fictional account of a teenage girl, dealing with the realities of bullying, sex and drugs, and the pressures of growing up, which ultimately causes her to take her own life. 

Friday, I wrote about The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein, the childrens book written in simple verse & simple illustrations, about the relationship between a little boy growing up and a tree. Originally banned because of sexism, there were also a whole host of other complaints of this deeply moving book. 

And this year for Banned Books Week, I opened the pages of Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison. I've updated you along the way, Monday & Thursday,  and finally this morning I turned over the last page. I have to say that it was not anything that I had expected. Although I knew it had to do with racial issues, I had no idea where it was going to take me. We last left our narrator beginning his stay in New York, the harsh New York during the height of segregation. He witnesses an eviction of an elderly Black couple in a high rise apartment and is moved to speak to the riotous crowd that is growing dangerous. He speaks to the crowd from his heart, and they stop and listen. In the crowd though, was a man from "The Brotherhood", a bipartisan group who recruit him as their spokesman to "the people". As our narrator is "indoctrinated" into their cause, which he feels initially is his cause, he becomes disillusioned. In reality, The Brotherhood, which is suppose to be the Communist party, is trying to control things for their own purpose and not to help the people of Harlem. A race riot eventually ensues, and barely escaping with his life he falls through a manhole into a pile of coal. It is there that he realizes he is worn out from the fight. Not just the fight for equality, but the fight to become an individual who is seen for his unique abilities, thoughts and expressions. He finally accepts his invisibility.
          " I have been hurt to the point of abysmal pain, hurt to the point of invisibility."
In the afterward to Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, it is written that Invisible Man is, "Groundbreaking in its exploration of race and identity and virtuosic in its use of language and dialect." I have to agree. The writing was great; I could hardly put it down once I got past the prologue. I empathized with the narrator and his struggles to do what was right in the face of all the opposition. I could feel the tensions, the sights and sounds of the era. The characters came alive off the page. And the story was good. Can I say great? I hesitate because of the subject matter, because you can't read the book and feel uplifted, but I would recommend the book. It is a classic, timeless in it's writing, with the ability to feel fresh even though it was published over 60 years ago.

This week Invisible Man came to the forefront of Banned Books Week because it was banned recently in school libraries in Randolph County, NC after a parent of a high school junior complained about its language and depictions of rape and incest. The board had banned the book Sept. 16 by a 5-2 vote, but rescinded that order after an amazing nationwide backlash.
Board Chairman Tommy McDonald said the torrent of emails he received was “very enlightening,’’ although a few were “downright vulgar and very hurtful.’’ The backlash made him realize, he said, that “my job is to make sure that book is there whether I want to read it or not." from LATimes.com
Before this incident of banning Invisible Man, there have been other attempts to ban it over the years...

"Excerpts banned in Butler, PA (1975); removed from the high school English reading list in St. Francis, WI (1975). Retained in the Yakima, WA schools (1994) after a five-month dispute over what advanced high school students should read in the classroom. Two parents raised concerns about profanity and images of violence and sexuality in the book and requested that it be removed from the reading list." from ALA.com

So there you have it, Banned Books Week in all its glory. Who would think that in the year 2013, there still would be the unfortunate issue of banning books. LATimes.com had an interesting article about the recent banning of Invisible Man, you can follow the link to LATimes.com to read it. The American Library Association is another great source to read more about banned books. Go to ALA.org to learn more.

What did you do for Banned Books Week? Read any good banned books?! I really missed being able to get around (in a leg brace unable to walk, a long story) because I really would have enjoyed reading at a Banned Book Read-Out, BUT there's always next year!

P.S. World Book Night book announcements coming soon, AND next we'll talk about the Man Booker Prize, which has new criteria and a big uproar because of it!

Happy Reading... Suzanne

1 comment:

K. Griffiths said...

It is very regrettable that there are persons who want to force the society they live in into a mold it won't accept. Are they afraid, and if so, of what exactly? Something will always com along that will seem to overwhelm their and our defenses. Why does art get the slap? The great thing about art is, if you don't like the art, don't walk in the front door of the museum. Stay out of that section of the library. Don't buy that CD. No, it's art's very avoidable nature, I sometimes think, that makes it easy to attack and attempt to ban. It may give one access to an illusion that there is something beyond our control which isn't, entirely. Anyone who wants to ban a book, though, should recall how many copies of Salman Rushdie's THE SATANIC VERSES were sold after Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini condemned the author. Sad to say, if certain opportunists aren't smart enough to see the futility of banning art of any kind, they certainly aren't going to learn from the experiences of others. Tanks for doing a post on this subject.

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