• Banned Books, First Amendment, and a Little Bit of Baseball

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in WBN News & Events     Comments 4 comments

    Before we get to the links (he wrote casually, as if it hadn’t been months since he’s done a Friday Links post), a brief report on the frightening Austin/San Marcos reign of George Saunders. For anyone going to see him tonight in Kyle who doesn’t want to know what’s coming, skip ahead to the next paragraph. (This means you, Questad.) Saunders began by saying he was going to read a funny story, but that if the crowd didn’t laugh he’d read instead a three-hour-long essay on legumes. He then launched into “Victory Lap,”one of his many New Yorker stories. I was working at a law office when that piece came out, and printed the story out (against the rules) and then read it while the boss was at lunch (way, way against the rules). Saunders’ reading was excellent–voices, orchestrated pauses, gestures. I usually have trouble following a narrative when being read to aloud, but Saunders had me the whole time.

    Actually, I’m aborting this Saunders report. His Q&A was especially interesting, and there’s no way I can just slide it into the introduction to a links post. I’ll bring a full report tomorrow morning. “So why don’t you just delete all this and start over, Duhr?” Because that’s not how we roll on the WriteByNight blog. We write off-the-cuff, raw and uncensored, for your reading (dis)pleasure.

    –Let’s start today off with the most challenged (read: “banned”) titles of 2010, books which have offended the sensitivities of America’s most challenging and backward-facing citizens. Sherman Alexie checks in at #2, with a book that is labeled or said to contain “Offensive language, Racism, Sex Education, Sexually Explicit, Unsuited to Age Group, Violence.”

    — This is a couple weeks old, but a judge in Houston sentenced a group of convicts to read a book instead of perform community service. His head was in the right place; unfortunately his heart was overflowing with Jesus, and the book he assigned, The Heart of the Problem, is a Bible study. I don’t know. To me this sounds like some sort of violation of one of those amendment thingies. Geez, maybe even the first one.

    — Maybe we should all take a minute (or four and a half) to listen to Kurt Vonnegut talk about story. No stranger to banned books was KV. Nor would he have tried to make friends with that ridiculous Houston judge.

    — Here’s an excellent poem that hits me where I (used to) live. And here’s an excellent story from a grad school friend of ours.

    — Last week I wrote about my ethical struggles with fictionalizing real people. Jennifer Spiegel, a writer whose work I enjoy, wrote this response on her own blog. And I like it.

    — Baseball fans should watch this hilarious video of Doc Ellis talking about the time he threw a no-hitter while high on LSD. Non baseball fans should watch this hilarious video of Doc Ellis talking about the time he threw a no-hitter while high on LSD. Flippin’ brilliant.

    Shameless Plug(s) of the Week

    — That little David Foster Wallace thing we posted a few days ago has been getting a lot of play.

    — I have a book review in the new Gulf Coast. Read it for free here. And then subscribe, because Gulf Coast is consistently excellent, and getting it for $16 is a steal.

    As always, if you come across anything extra cool or extra ridiculous/frightening/ominous in the literary sphere, send it my way.

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    They banned Meyer’s Twilight for ‘religious viewpoint and violence? Okay maybe. Personally I think it should be banned for being badly written, but I’m one of those people that think so-called best sellers should be well written and not just well hyped.

    David Duhr

    Mairin, I wish I could tabulate what percentage of your comments on our blog are jabs at Twilight. And then together we could brainstorm ways to raise that percentage; if it’s not already at 100.


    Applause for celebrating Kurt Vonnegut and Doc Ellis in almost the same breath. More blogs should. The Ellis animated short is pure genius. I try to watch it at least quarterly for general life enrichment. I’m waiting on the full-length film–No No: A Dockumentary. (This wasn’t a very literary comment. Apologies.)

    David Duhr

    Two things: 1) I can’t believe I misspelled “Dock.” Where are my fact checkers? (Actually, those should be separate points) 2) How did I not include this tidbit (from Dock’s Wikipedia page) on the other, slightly less impressive No-No he once had going? “Ellis attempted to hit every batter in the Cincinnati Reds lineup on May 1, 1974, in an effort to prove a point to teammates. Ellis hit Pete Rose, Joe Morgan, and Dan Driessen in the top of the first. The clean-up batter Tony Perez avoided Ellis’s attempts, instead drawing a walk, and after two pitches aimed at… Read more »

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