November 20th, 2007

It’s easy to joke about books being banned

It’s easy to joke about books being banned. I know I have. Does it really hurt books that are challenged – there is the resultant publicity, after all. But books may also be hurt in unseen ways, because a librarian or teacher decides to avoid the controversy completely by never ordering the book.

But the real losers when it comes to books being fought over are the teachers and the librarians who stand up and try to fight censorship. Because some of them lose. I remember reading on Maureen Johnson’s blog about a librarian who stood up for The Bermudez Triangle – she either quit or was fired over it.

Here’s an article about several recent tussles over books. I was stuck by these lines: “Finan told BTW that often freedom of speech and banned books are considered abstractions. But, he said, "There are really flesh and blood people whose careers, peace of mind, and professional responsibilities are threatened. These cases are particularly consequential."

Read more here.



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If there's a heaven on earth, maybe it looks like this...

The New York times ran a story about Pioneer Valley, Mass., where you have your choice of 20 or more author events each week.

I love going to see authors read and talk. First, their approach to writing is often so different than mine. I remember Susan Fromburg-Schaffer talking about how she researched a book for four or five years (once even learning Japanese), but makes no notes at all. Then she writes 20 hours a day and has the whole thing done in a few weeks. Phil Margolin creates a detailed outline that runs nearly 100 pages, then simply fleshes it out for the book. Carol Shields once explained the patterns she followed when writing, but I don't have my notes any longer.

Second, it's just fascinating to see what they are like in person. Clyde Edgerton did like a reader's theatre when he read from one of his book, putting on a baseball cap for one character, and eating an apple when he was a second. But a friend leaned over to me at one point and whispered, "I'll bet he's a drinker." I have no idea if that's true, but I could see it. Charming to the point of recklessness.

Third, you make an author's day just by being there. Buying a book is optional.

Fourth, you never know who you'll run into or what doors will open. Which is why I got to spend a little time with Michael Chabon in 1992 - because he was a friend of Louis B. Jones, and there were only three people in the audience.



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From the AP Wire: Scott McClellan blames the president

"WASHINGTON - Former White House press secretary Scott McClellan blames President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney for efforts to mislead the public about the role of White House aides in leaking the identity of a CIA operative. In an excerpt from his forthcoming book, McClellan recounts the 2003 news conference in which he told reporters that aides Karl Rove and I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby were "not involved" in the leak involving operative Valerie Plame. "There was one problem. It was not true," McClellan writes, according to a brief excerpt released Tuesday. "I had unknowingly passed along false information. And five of the highest-ranking officials in the administration were involved in my doing so: Rove, Libby, the vice president, the president's chief of staff and the president himself.""

Scott McClellan was a masterful press secretary. I've worked with the media - although never on that level of course - and always marveled at his intelligence and quick thinking.

Do you really believe he had no idea it was a lie?



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