Hooray! Banned Books Week 2012 has finally arrived. Like Christmas when we were children, we thought it would never come, and before you know it, it will be over. So light a bonfire, grab that copy of Millie Moo Touch and Feel that your daughter makes you read every freaking night, and toss it in there with the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy, and let’s raise awareness of censorship and celebrate the freedom to read! Ok, ok, maybe lighting bonfires to burn books isn’t quite keeping with the spirit of the celebration (even if those books really do deserve to be burned).
Here’s a list of the most banned classic novels over on the American Library Association’s website . Take a look, and let’s see just what sort of literate perv you really are. I’ve read probably close to 75% of those books, if you count the books I was supposed to read for a class, but didn’t, ’cause I just skated through my academic career (but I’m still counting them because I did sit through
all most of the boring lectures, and that should mean something).
I don’t know about you, but I must have attended some weird public schools because none of these books were banned where I grew up. Instead, we were required to read them. I would have happily attended some school where The Great Gatsby (Jesus Christ, Daisy isn’t all that!) and The Lord of the Flies (weren’t we all actually living our own private The Lord of the Flies in high school? Did we have to read about it, too?) were forbidden.
Scanning the list, it seems that being the suckiest suck of a book that ever sucked isn’t enough to get you banned, and, really, shouldn’t that be the only criteria? Instead, in order to get banned you have to write about sex, mostly, but lots of books also get banned just because they use the “n-word.” Banning books that use pejorative terms for people of color always makes me shake my head slowly at the Stoopids who object to the book, because invariably the novel being banned has a very powerful anti-racism message that I’m guessing they prefer not be heard?
Further down the list of classic banned books, way down there at number 84 is a favorite of mine, Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer. First published in Europe in the 1930s, it took a decision by the United States Supreme Court (Grove Press, Inc. v. Gerstein) in 1964 to declare the book not obscene and allow its publication over here. Just between you and me, it really is obscene, one of the filthiest books ever. Here’s an excerpt:
O Tania, where now is that warm cunt of yours, those fat, heavy garters, those soft, bulging thighs? There is a bone in my prick six inches long. I will ream out every wrinkle in your cunt, Tania, big with seed. I will send you home to your Sylvester with an ache in your belly and your womb turned inside out. Your Sylvester! Yes, he knows how to build a fire, but I know how to inflame a cunt. I shoot hot bolts into you, Tania, I make your ovaries incandescent. Your Sylvester is a little jealous now? He feels something, does he? He feels the remnants of my big prick. I have set the shores a little wider. I have ironed out the wrinkles. After me you can take on stallions, bulls, rams, drakes, St. Bernards. You can stuff toads, bats, lizards up your rectum. You can shit arpeggios if you like, or string a zither across your navel. I am fucking you, Tania, so that you’ll stay fucked.
I first read the novel as a horny (and virginal) high school sophomore, and I was shocked by the graphic sex. I reread it this summer, and now that I’m a
round heeled worldly thirty one year old, I was more shocked by the graphic depictions of poor personal hygiene. The novel is populated by characters who fuck on sheets swarming with bedbugs, screw whores ridden with lice and every single one of them has the clap, just got over the clap or is about to catch the clap from some lice-ridden whore.
Anyway, this week, take a moment to celebrate the freedom to read dirty books and I’d love to hear about your favorite banned book in the comments.
Some images courtesy of the American Booksellers Foundation For Free Expression. Royalty free stock photos including some images in this post can be found at Stock.XCHNG and freedigitalphotos.net.