BOOK WORLD NEWS BITS & MISCELLANY
STATEMENT ON READER PRIVACY
Since 2004, the Campaign for Reader Privacy, which represents
librarians, booksellers, authors and publishers, has been working to
restore protections to guard the confidentiality of bookstore and
library records that were stripped under Section 215 of the Patriot Act.
Two years ago, Democratic and Republican members of Congress introduced
a bill requiring the government to show that those whose reading
records it wishes to gather are actually suspected of criminal
activity-something that is required by the Fourth Amendment, which
protects us from unreasonable searches and seizures, and the First
Amendment, which guards our right to access information of our own
choosing. But Congress ignored that bill and reauthorized what we now
know are flawed, dangerous powers.
It is time to correct that mistake-and to start reining in our
government's runaway surveillance programs. The Campaign for Reader
Privacy calls on Congress and on the President to take the first step by
passing legislation that will restore privacy protections for
book sales and library lending records. What law-abiding Americans are
reading is nobody's business.
Campaign for Reader Privacy was organized in 2004 by the American
Booksellers Association, the American Library Association, the
Association of American Publishers, and PEN American Center. Its goal is
to ensure that Americans can purchase and borrow books without fear
that the government is reading over their shoulder. For more
information, visit www.readerprivacy.org
Dan Cullen (ABA), 914-406-7560
Lynne Bradley (ALA), 800-941-8478
Judith Platt (AAP), 202-220-4551 Larry Siems (PEN), 212-334-1660, x 105
24th Annual Lambda Literary Award Finalists (2011)
Lesbian Debut Fiction
The Girls Club, by Sally Bellerose, Bywater Books
Megume and the Trees, by Sarah Toshiko Hasu, Megami Press
My Sister Chaos, by Lara Fergus, Spinifex Press
Nickels: A Tale of Dissociation, by Christine Stark, Modern History Press
Zipper Mouth, by Laurie Weeks, The Feminist Press at CUNY
Lesbian General Fiction
The Dirt Chronicles, by Kristyn Dunnion, Arsenal Pulp Press
The Necessity of Certain Behaviors, by Shannon Cain, University of Pittsburgh Press
Six Metres of Pavement, by Farzana Doctor, Dundurn Press
When She Woke, by Hillary Jordan, Algonquin Books
Wingshooters, by Nina Revoyr, Akashic Books
How to Get a Girl Pregnant, by Karleen Pendleton Jimenez, Tightrope Books
Sheepish: Two Women, Fifty Sheep, and Enough Wool to Save the Planet, by Catherine Friend, Da Capo Press/Lifelong Books
Small Fires: Essays, by Julie Marie Wade, Sarabande
Taking My Life, by Jane Rule, Talonbooks
When We Were Outlaws: A Memoir of Love & Revolution, by Jeanne Córdova, Spinsters Ink
Dying to Live, by Kim Baldwin & Xenia Alexiou, Bold Strokes Books
Hostage Moon, by AJ Quinn, Bold Strokes Books
Rainey Nights: A Rainey Bell Thriller, by R.E. Bradshaw, R.E. Bradshaw Books
Retirement Plan, by Martha Miller, Bold Strokes Books
Trick of the Dark, by Val McDermid, Bywater Books
15 Ways to Stay Alive, by Daphne Gottlieb, Manic D Press
Discipline, by Dawn Lundy Martin, Nightboat Books
Love Cake, by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, TSAR Publications
Milk and Honey: A Celebration of Jewish Lesbian Poetry, edited by Julie R. Enszer, A Midsummer Night’s Press
The Stranger Dissolves, by Christina Hutchins, Sixteen Rivers Press
For Me and My Gal, by Robbi McCoy, Bella Books
Ghosts of Winter, by Rebecca S. Buck, Bold Strokes Books
Rescue Me, by Julie Cannon, Bold Strokes Books
Storms, by Gerri Hill, Bella Books
Taken by Surprise, by Kenna White, Bella Books
The Collectors, by Anne Laughlin writing as Lesley Gowan, Bold Strokes Books
Lesbian Cops: Erotic Investigations, edited by Sacchi Green, Cleis Press
A Ride to Remember & Other Erotic Tales, by Sacchi Green, Lethe Press
Story of L, by Debra Hyde, Ravenous Romance
Gay Debut Fiction
98 Wounds, by Justin Chin, Manic D Press
Dirty One, by Michael Graves, Chelsea Station Editions
Have You Seen Me, by Katherine Scott Nelson, Chicago Center for Literature and Photography
Mitko, by Garth Greenwell, Miami University Press
Quarantine: Stories, by Rahul Mehta, Harper Perennial
Gay General Fiction
The Empty Family, by Colm Tóibín, Scribner
The Great Night, by Chris Adrian, Farrar, Straus & Giroux
Leche, by R. Zamora Linmark, Coffee House Press
The Stranger’s Child, by Alan Hollinghurst, Alfred A.Knopf
The Unreal Life of Sergey Nabokov, by Paul Russell, Cleis Press
Celluloid Activist: The Life and Times of Vito Russo, by Michael Schiavi, University of Wisconsin Press
For the Ferryman: A Personal History, by Charles Silverstein, Chelsea Station Editions
Halsted Plays Himself, by William E. Jones, Semiotext(e)
If You Knew Then What I Know Now, by Ryan Van Meter, Sarabande Books
The Jack Bank: A Memoir of a South African Childhood, by Glen Retief, St. Martin’s Press
The Affair of the Porcelain Dog, by Jess Faraday, Bold Strokes Books
Blue’s Bayou, by David Lennon, Blue Spike Publishing
Boystown: Three Nick Nowak Mysteries, by Marshall Thornton, Torquere Press
Malabarista, by Garry Ryan, NeWest Press
Red White Black and Blue, by Richard Stevenson, MLR Press
Dear Prudence: New and Selected Poems, by David Trinidad, Turtle Point Press
Double Shadow: Poems, by Carl Phillips, Farrar, Straus & Giroux
A Fast Life: The Collected Poems of Tim Dlugos, edited by David Trinidad, Nightboat Books
Kintsugi, by Thomas Meyer, Flood Editions
The Other Poems, by Paul Legault, Fence Books
Every Time I Think of You, by Jim Provenzano, CreateSpace/Myrmidude Press
Settling the Score, by Eden Winters, Torquere Press
Something Like Summer, by Jay Bell, Jay Bell Books
Split, by Mel Bossa, Bold Strokes Books
Tinseltown, by Barry Brennessel, MLR Press
All Together, by Dirk Vanden, loveyoudivine Alterotica
Backwoods, by Natty Soltesz, Rebel Satori Press
Best Gay Erotica 2012, edited by Richard Labonte, Cleis Press
George Platt Lynes: The Male Nudes, edited by Steven Haas, Rizzoli New York
History’s Passions: Stories of Sex Before Stonewall, edited by Richard Labonte, Bold Strokes Books
The Book of Broken Hymns, by Rafe Posey, Flying Rabbit
The Butterfly and the Flame, by Dana De Young, iUniverse
I am J, by Cris Beam, Little, Brown Books for Children
Static, by L.A. Witt, Amber Allure/Amber Quill Press
Take Me There: Trans and Genderqueer Erotica, edited by Tristan Taormino, Cleis Press
Captive Genders: Trans Embodiment and the Prison Industrial Complex, edited by Eric A. Stanley and Nat Smith, AK Press
Letters For My Brothers: Transitional Wisdom in Retrospect, edited by Megan M. Rohrer and Zander Keig, Wilgefortis Press
Normal Life: Administrative Violence, Critical Trans Politics and the Limits of Law, by Dean Spade, South End Press
Re-Dressing America’s Frontier Past, by Peter Boag, University of California Press
Tango: My Childhood, Backwards and in High Heels, by Justin Vivian Bond, The Feminist Press at CUNY
Boyfriends With Girlfriends, by Alex Sanchez, Simon & Schuster
The Correspondence Artist, by Barbara Browning, Two Dollar Radio
Have You Seen Me, by Katherine Scott Nelson, Chicago Center for Literature and Photography
Triptych, by J.M. Frey, Dragon Moon Press
The Two Krishnas, by Ghalib Shiraz Dhalla, Magnus Books
Big Sex Little Death: A Memoir, by Susie Bright, Seal Press
Bisexuality and Queer Theory: Intersections, Connections and Challenges, edited by Jonathan Alexander & Serena Anderlini-D’Onofrio, Routledge
The Horizontal Poet, by Jan Steckel, Zeitgeist Press
Sovereign Erotics: A Collection of Two-Spirit Literature, edited by Qwo-Li Driskill, Daniel Heath Justice, Deborah Miranda, and Lisa Tatonetti, University of Arizona Press
Surviving Steven: A True Story, by Ven Rey, Ven Rey
Ambientes: New Queer Latino Writing, edited by Lazaro Lima & Felice Picano, University of Wisconsin Press
The Fire in Moonlight: Stories from the Radical Faeries, edited by Mark Thompson, White Crane Books/Lethe Press
Gay Latino Studies: A Critical Reader, edited by Michael Hames-García and Ernesto Javier Martínez, Duke University Press
Persistence: All Ways Butch and Femme, edited by Ivan E. Coyote & Zena Sharman, Arsenal Pulp Press
Sovereign Erotics: A Collection of Two-Spirit Literature, edited by Qwo-Li Driskill, Daniel Heath Justice, Deborah Miranda, and Lisa Tatonetti, University of Arizona Press
LGBT Children’s/Young Adult
Gemini Bites, by Patrick Ryan, Scholastic
Huntress, by Malinda Lo, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
I am J, by Cris Beam, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
PINK, by Lili Wilkinson, HarperCollins
Putting Makeup on the Fat Boy, by Bil Wright, Simon & Schuster
Letters to the End of the World, by Anton Dudley, Playscripts, Inc.
A Menopausal Gentleman: The Solo Performances of Peggy Shaw, by Peggy Shaw, University of Michigan Press
Secrets of the Trade, by Jonathan Tolins, Samuel French, Inc.
The Temperamentals, by Jon Marans, Chelsea Station Editions
The Zero Hour, by Madeleine George, Samuel French, Inc.
Gay in America: Portraits by Scott Pasfield, by Scott Pasfield, Welcome Books
God vs. Gay?: The Religious Case for Equality, by Jay Michaelson, Beacon Press
The H.D. Book, by Robert Duncan, University of California Press
A Queer History of the United States, by Michael Bronski, Beacon Press
Seeing Gertrude Stein: Five Stories, by Wanda M. Corn and Tirza True Latimer, University of California Press
The German, by Lee Thomas, Lethe Press
Paradise Tales: and Other Stories, by Geoff Ryman, Small Beer Press
Static, by L.A. Witt, Amber Allure/Amber Quill Press
Steam-powered: Lesbian Steampunk Stories, edited by JoSelle Vanderhooft, Torquere Press
Triptych, by J.M. Frey, Dragon Moon Press
Captive Genders: Trans Embodiment and the Prison Industrial Complex, edited by Eric A. Stanley and Nat Smith, AK Press
Freedom with Violence: Race, Sexuality, and the US State, by Chandan Reddy, Duke University Press
Sister Arts: The Erotics of Lesbian Landscapes, by Lisa L. Moore, University of Minnesota Press
Techniques of Pleasure: BDSM and the Circuits of Sexuality, by Margot Weiss, Duke University Press
¡Venceremos?: The Erotics of Black Self-making in Cuba, by Jafari S. Allen, Duke University Press
Way to Lesbianism: A Review of “A Fall to New Heights” by Sidney Andrews (i
Universe: Bloomington, Ind., 2011, available
in e-book, softcover and hardcover editions, $9.95 to $29.95)
By Thomas S. Brown
have written stories about how they discovered their lesbian inner self 10 or
15 years into a traditional heterosexual marriage. But Sidney Andrews’ new
self-published memoir, “A Fall to New Heights,” tells this tale for the most unlikely of lesbians -- two deeply religious young Christian mothers
who met first as prayer partners, then became best friends, and finally, years
later, sexual lovers.
The affair started
off when a mutual woman friend brought Sidney, just starting a nursing career,
to a women’s prayer group and introduced her to Kate. At first they seemed to
be opposites – Sidney was the breezy, outdoing jeans-type soccer mom, while Kate was the prim and proper Connecticut suburbanite, somewhat withdrawn
as she coped with partial paralysis caused by polio. But after a few weeks, they were telephoning and
visiting daily, helping each other with the challenges of mothering young kids.
In time, their husbands became pals, too, and the families frequently went on
camping trips together.
Written in the
first person, the vivid memoir brims with
the raw emotion of a “Dear Diary” confessional, but also is hemmed in by the
limitations of that format. It is easy
for the reader to picture what Sidney goes through, but the emotions of Kate remain
somewhat opaque. The feelings of their abandoned husbands are even harder to
Sidney makes it
clear both she and Kate felt tremendous guilt about their mutual attraction and
tried to resist it. Kate went so far as to break things off, but the women
found they couldn’t get along without seeing one another. But it was a long, long road before they made their way,
inevitably, to the bedroom. And then, for many months more, they hid their
affair, even as their friends began to have suspicions about their strong bond.
All this takes
place in the homophobic 1970s, when humiliation, ridicule and fear of gay
people was considered the “normal” way to treat “perverts.” A particularly wrenching scene occurs when
Sidney goes to see her pastor for guidance, and receives no comfort at all,
only an exhortation to give up her “thing” for women.
Finally, in a
Thelma-and-Louise type episode, the women pack their bags and light out for a
new life together, but after a few days they decide they have to go back home
and face the music. But they refuse to give up each other, but instead find an
apartment and support themselves with
almost no money. The story of how they
dealt with distraught husbands and bewildered children is sketched just
briefly. Perhaps the biggest unanswered question Is whether they found a way to
resume a spiritual life. But Sidney does provide a moving denouement of
reconciliation with her children after they became adults and a relationship
with Kate that has grown stronger year by year. They have left Connecticut and now are retired in Port St. Lucie in
As is the case
with many self-published books, the text lacks professional editing, so
punctuation and spelling errors and run-on sentences pop up here and there.
These flaws are trivial. Their story is a powerful one and deserves a wide
readership, particularly among committed Christian women and church leaders.
(Reviewer Thomas S. Brown operates KingChamp Books in Port
Orange, Fl., and is a member of New Church Family, a gay-affirming church in
Daytona Beach, Fl. )
HOW TO CHOOSE AN ELECTRONIC BIBLE (Feb. 10, 2011)
NOTE: This review is provided to us
by Emery Jeffreys of Orange City,
Fl. Emery is a long-time journalist and an ardent Bible student. He has
developed and managed web sites for many clients, including the Daytona Beach
News-Journal, Stetson University and BrightHouse Network in Orlando. Contact Emery at www.emeryjeffreys.com
The Kindle Book Store at Amazon is
packed with more than a hundred Bibles with almost as many translations. There
are a few free texts, mostly the King James Version.
Before shelling out coin of the realm, search the bookstore to see what's
available. Amazon offers a Kindle version of Nelson's Study Bible, Matthew
Henry's Bible along with several translations with Strong's numbers. The old
stand-by, The New International Version Student Bible, is also available via
Kindle, but at $16.99, it's pricey compared to other electronic versions.
During the online shopping trip, it's also time to make a few decisions.
Electronic Bibles excel at finding passages without flipping through pages or
wondering which book comes first, like Psalms or Proverbs. Check to see if the
version you choose has an annotation feature. It's a great way to remember why
you looked for a verse. All offer bookmarking features to get back to a passage
once you find it.
The other decision may be the most difficult. Do you need an electronic Bible?
Nothing beats flipping through the pages and finding a handwritten cross
reference or note.
Electronic Bibles are great for study. For example, with Strong's numbers it's
fairly easy to cross-reference one verse with another; if you don't understand
the context of the verse, Strong's numbers will refer to another verse where
words have similar meanings.
The best computer Bible is not available for eBooks. The Sword Project (http://www.crosswire.org/applications.jsp) Bible software is
free. It's available in just about any translation. Modules can be added for
Nelson's, Strong's or Matthew Henry's study Bible. The Sword Project offers
hundreds of foreign translations.
My favorite Kindle version is John Maxwell's Leadership Bible. It contains
extensive notes about Biblical leadership principles.
Don't overlook Internet sites that offer free eBooks compatible with Kindle:
REVIEW: "Ruffling the Peacock's Feathers" by David Howard Day (XLibris)
(Reviewed by Thomas S. Brown, KingChamp Books, Feb. 1, 2011 )
anthropologist David Howard Day, India still casts a mesmerizing spell, 40
years after his sojourn there as a Peace Corps volunteer. Even as snow blankets
his home in Rochester, N.Y., the well-traveled professor thinks back to the magical
“cow-dust hour” – the calm that descends on the blazing Indian countryside at
sunset as cattle amble home from arid fields. He warmly reminisces about the
camaraderie he enjoyed with villagers gathered around his transistor radio, their
spirited games of volleyball, their glee at seeing him perform the hokey-pokey,
and the hospitality of their family feasts.
But his two
years as an agricultural adviser in a caste-dominated culture left him with
disturbing memories as well – episodes of gang violence, arson, rape,
infanticide and suicide. In his newly published memoir “Ruffling the Peacock’s
Feathers,” Day has produced a haunting account
of both the beautiful and brutal elements of traditional Indian village life.
Day went to
India in 1967 as an idealistic and energetic college graduate. He had already
completed one tour of Peace Corps duty as a rural development worker in Kenya
and now was ready to try his hand in northern India. After crash courses in Indian
culture and language, the Peace Corps sent him out to Uttar Pradesh, Indian’s
most populous state, for work in the rural Pratapgarh district, about 30 miles
from the ancient city of Allahabad. Many
villages at that time still lacked electricity, paved roads and telephones.
Television was unknown.
It was the
period when India was just starting to embark on the “Green Revolution,” using
new seed hybrids, fertilizers, pesticides and mechanized irrigation to boost
grain production. Day and hundreds of other American volunteers were to be the
front-line agents of change, demonstrating the innovations to barely literate
farmers. But in this book, Day puts aside community development doctrine to
focus instead on the day-to-day personal struggles of his neighbors. In a collection
of 15 slightly fictionalized short stories, based on his daily journal and
letters sent to his family, he tells touching anecdotes about several lower-caste
young men struggling to make a living in a rigid society. While he also
profiles an older lawyer, a haughty district magistrate, an aged spiritual guru
and even Stalin’s daughter in his cast
of characters, it’s the younger villagers who are sketched most vividly.
introduction, Day announces his intent to keep himself in the background and
let the Indians be the principal characters. But as the chapters unfold, the
reader finds the author and his subjects intertwined in each drama. For me
personally, this interaction was the captivating element, since I have counted David
as a close friend since graduate school and spent 1969 in India myself as a
student intern for the U.S. Agency for International Development.
experiences in a first-person narrative, often with bemused irony, Day reveals
himself as an American who doggedly perseveres in his modernizing mission yet
remains respectful of Hindu and Muslim customs. He writes in a moving way about
solitude – i.e., the lack of intimacy even as he is surrounded by crowds of the
curious -- and his isolation from American culture and current events.
Repeatedly, he mentions his hunger for headlines about the Vietnam War. Working
mostly alone with only occasional visits by a Peace Corp partner stationed many
miles away, Day establishes various degrees of friendship with young Indian men
in his village. Some of the friendships are described with flashes of homoerotic
imagery, and at one point he confesses he has become infatuated with both a young
blacksmith and the youth’s beautiful sister. But Day remains chaste, even as he
admits wondering how his long-term celibacy might affect his future sex life.
He also acknowledges
some doubt about what exactly he accomplished by immersing himself in an
obscure settlement for two years. He tells himself that he did succeed in
introducing a few new agricultural practices and helped some students learn
English. He also noted he had given villagers an inkling of American values.
“They had never seen a European or an American sit down with a low-caste
sweeper or corpse carrier,” Day concludes. “I was satisfied, yes, that most of these
were, in some small way, a measurable legacy.” In sum, he had succeeded in
“ruffling the feathers” of one tiny village in a huge subcontinent. But, he
added, “I was taking away so much more than what I was able to give…”
Day’s book can
be savored one story at a time, making it perfect for bedtime reading. But as I
progressed, I found myself picking up the momentum, taking in three or four
stories at a sitting. For readers unfamiliar with India, the author’s frequent
use of Hindi and Urdu words may be a stumbling block. A glossary or footnotes
might be helpful for any future edition. I would also like to see photographs
or line drawings added to the text.
In the file
drawers and cabinets of his museum-like house, Day’s experiences in Kenya
remain fallow. I hope success with this volume will become the catalyst that
produces the prequel on village life in East Africa.
REVIEW: The Great Derangement: A Terrifying True Story of War, Politics, and Religion at the Twilight of the American Empire by Matt Taibbi
(Reviewed by Thomas S. Brown, KingChamp Books, Aug. 29, 2011)
Taibbi, a Rolling Stone writer, gives us a jumbled collage of the political and social landscape of America toward the close of the Bush era. It's not coherently structured and at times deteriorates into raving, rather than reporting. But some of the scenes and characters are vivid, particularly those from Pastor Hagee's Cornerstone church in Texas. Taibbi went underground and pretended to be a Christian seeker to gain access to a church cell within the Hagee empire. At first, he mocks the losers in his cell, but then he develops a temporary friendship with some of them before finally outing himself. As he leaves Texas, he has the gnawing feeling that his own life on the road, chasing the next big story, may be just as empty and distorted as what he witnessed in San Antonio.
Other chapters deal briefly with the 9-11 Truther movement, a case study of lobbyist-driven lawmaking in Congress, and his time embedded with a Military Police unit in Baghdad.
At the conclusion, Taibbi struggles to pull a smidgen of optimism from his experiences. Somehow, he got the notion that the campaigns of Barack Obama and John Edwards offered a sign of hope and renewal for America. Sadly, three years later, both of his progressive heroes have crashed and burned. It will be interesting to see what Taibbi comes up with for the 2012 campaign.
GAY PENGUINS, HARRY POTTER & HUCK FINN -- Stalwarts of Banned Book Week
By Walter Brasch
Parents demanded it be banned.
School superintendents placed it in restricted sections of their libraries.
It is the most challenged book four of the past five years, according to the American Library Association (ALA).
"It" is a 32-page illustrated children's book, And Tango Makes Three,
by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson, with illustrations by Henry
Cole. The book is based upon the real story of Roy and Silo, two male
penguins, who had formed a six-year bond at New York City's Central Park
Zoo, and who "adopted" a fertilized egg and raised the chick until she
could be on her own.
Gays saw the story as a positive reinforcement of
their lifestyle. Riding to rescue America from homosexuality were the
biddies against perversion. Gay love is against the Bible, they wailed;
the book isn't suitable for the delicate minds of children, they cried
as they pushed libraries and schools to remove it from their shelves or
at the very least make it restricted.
The penguins may have been gay--or maybe they
weren't. It's not unusual for animals to form close bonds with others of
their same sex. But the issue is far greater than whether or not the
penguins were gay or if the book promoted homosexuality as a valid
lifestyle. People have an inherent need to defend their own values,
lifestyles, and worldviews by attacking others who have a different set
of beliefs. Banning or destroying free speech and the freedom to publish
is one of the ways people believe they can protect their own
During the first decade of the 21st century, the most challenged books, according to the ALA, were J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, apparently because some people believe fictionalized witchcraft
is a dagger into the soul of organized religion. Stephanie Meyer's Twilight series was the 10th most challenged in 2010. Perhaps some parents
weren't comfortable with their adolescents having to make a choice
between werewolves and vampires.
Among the most challenged books is Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451,
the vicious satire about firemen burning books to save humanity. Other
books that are consistently among the ALA's list of most challenged are Brave New World (Aldous Huxley), The Chocolate War (Robert Cormier), Of Mice and Men (John Steinbeck), I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (Maya Angelou), Forever (Judy Blume), and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Mark Twain), regarded by most major literary scholars as the finest American novel.
Name a classic, and it's probably on the list of
the most challenged books. Conservatives, especially fundamental
religious conservatives, tend to challenge more books. But, challenges
aren't confined to any one political ideology. Liberals are frequently
at the forefront of challenging books that may not agree with their own
social philosophies. The feminist movement, while giving the nation a
better awareness of the rights of women, wanted to ban Playboy
and all works that depicted what they believed were unflattering images
if women. Liberals have also attacked the works of Joel Chandler Harris
(the Br'er Rabbit series), without understanding history, folklore, or
the intent of the journalist-author, who was well-regarded as liberal
for his era.
Although there are dozens of reasons why people say
they want to restrict or ban a book, the one reason that threads its
way through all of them is that the book challenges conventional
authority or features a character who is perceived to be "different,"
who may give readers ideas that many see as "dangerous."
The belief there are works that are "dangerous" is
why governments create and enforce laws that restrict publication. In
colonial America, as in almost all countries and territories at that
time, the monarchy required every book to be licensed, to be read by a
government official or committee to determine if the book was suitable
for the people. If so, it received a royal license. If not, it could not
In 1644, two decades before his epic poem Paradise Lost was published, John Milton wrote a pamphlet, to be distributed to
members of Parliament, against a recently-enacted licensing law. In
defiance of the law, the pamphlet was published without license. Using
Biblical references and pointing out that the Greek and Roman
civilizations didn't license books, Milton argued, "As good almost kill a
man as kill a good book; who kills a man kills a reasonable create [in]
God's image," he told Parliament, "but he who destroys a good book
kills reason itself, kills the image of God ." He concluded his pamphlet
with a plea, " Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue
freely according to conscience, above all liberties."
A century later, Sir William Blackstone, one of
England's foremost jurists and legal scholars, argued against prior
restraint, the right of governments to block publication of any work
they found offensive for any reason.
The arguments of Milton and Blackstone became the
basis of the foundation of a new country, to be known as the United
States of America, and the establishment of the First Amendment.
Every year, at the end of September, the American
Library Association sponsors Banned Book Week, and publishes a summary
of book challenges. And every year, it is made more obvious that those
who want to ban books, sometimes building bonfires and throwing books
upon them as did Nazi Germany, fail to understand the principles of why
this nation was created.
[Walter Brasch was a newspaper and magazine
reporter and editor before becoming a professor of mass communications,
with specialties in First Amendment and contemporary social issues. His
current book is the mystery novel, Before the First Snow , a look at the 1960s, and how issues unresolved during those years are affecting today's society.]
JUNE 2011 -- A tribute to libraries (from Shelf Awareness Blog)
"[A library] isn't just a library. It is a
space ship that will take you to the farthest reaches of the Universe, a
time machine that will take you to the far past and the far future, a
teacher that knows more than any human being, a friend that will amuse
you and console you--and most of all, a gateway, to a better and happier
and more useful life." --Isaac Asimov in a March 16, 1971, letter to children at the newly opened Troy, Mich., public library, as posted on lettersofnote.com
MAY 2011 -- ...In case any of you have a trip to Atlanta coming up, consider a browse at Outwrite, an endangered GLBT bookstore in midtown...
from Shelf Awareness blog, May 25, 2011:
In an open e-mail letter to the community, Philip Rafshoon, owner of Outwrite Bookstore & Coffeehouse, Atlanta, Ga., said that the store's sales "have not been immune to the
downturn in the economy and the impact technology has on how people buy
and read books." The store is "in jeopardy," he said, but "to ensure a
successful future, we're doing a lot of work: we're realigning our
business model, refocusing our products and services, and upgrading the
store to meet the changing needs of our customers and the community."
But he asked customers to help buy "as many of your books, CDs and
DVDs from Outwrite as possible"; buy e-books from the store online;
visit the coffeehouse; use the coffeehouse lounge for free for meetings
of companies, businesses or organizations; volunteer to help the store
in web design, bookkeeping, finance, banking, retail management, retail
sales, collections and legal services; and tell others about the store.
--- BeachcomberT aka Tom at KingChamp Books
JAN. 12, 2011, From Shelf Awareness blog:
Essay By Anthony Doerr
"On Books, Memory and the Twelve Bright
Stars Scratched Across Page 302"
Whenever we buy a book, we say we buy a “copy” of it. We buy a copy of
Gravity’s Rainbow, say, and we carry our copy home. We open it; we fall
into it. And it is here that the word “copy” fails.
Because what I experience when I read Gravity’s Rainbow, or Beloved, or
The Moviegoer, is not at all a “copy” of what you experience when you
read the same novel. Now that the books are in our hands, in our homes,
in our heads, the copies have become something much more idiosyncratic
and alive. They’ve become individual experiences. They’ve become
Last year I bought Daniyal Mueenuddin’s story collection In Other Rooms,
Other Wonders at Annie Bloom’s Books in Portland. I read two-thirds of
it, wrote all over it, flew to Boise, drove home, and realized I’d left
the book on the airplane.
“It’s okay,” my wife said, when she saw my disappointment. “You can buy
another copy.” But I couldn’t, not really. That was my copy. My
experience of the book. And once I finished it, I planned to stow it on
a shelf in a particular spot in my office and there it would sit, with
my notes scribbled in it, waiting to be called back up, in the way I
imagine individual memories wait to be called back up inside our brains.
It is the weather in which one reads a book that interpenetrates the
paper. It is the mood one is in, the mindset one carries, the hunger in
one’s gut, the quality of the sunlight falling across the page. It is
the little coffee stain on page 29, the twelve bright stars scratched
ecstatically across page 302.
Maybe, rather than copies, a more precise way to think about books on
the shelves of a bookshop is to think of them as something closer to
recipes. The execution of a recipe, after all, depends on a thousand
variables: elevation, humidity, the freshness of the vegetables, the
temperature of the oven, the kind of metal in the pan, how much wine the
cook has been drinking.
What one cheese souffle is a copy of the next? What cook hasn’t tried
preparing the same dish five years apart, only to produce significantly
To contemplate the intense, complicated latticework of memory and
experience summoned by a single book on my shelves boggles my mind. I
bought this little orange-spined paperback—Nadine Gordimer’s July’s
People—at Iconoclast Books in Ketchum, Idaho. While I was reading it, I
found myself in a tense and terrifying version of South Africa. I was
also, literally, in a hotel room in London.
Or this book, Death in Venice. I bought it earlier this year at the
newly-relocated Rediscovered Books in downtown Boise. While I read it, I
was an aging, world-famous German writer in a decadent, damp Venice. I
was also—simultaneously!—in McCall, Idaho, in a dark cabin, surrounded
by falling snow, while my little sons slept twenty feet away.
Indeed, every book on my shelves is a key to a little vault of memories.
Here a boy in an egg-blue suit handed me an ornate invitation to a
party at Jay Gatsby’s; here I met the harpooner Queequeg at the Spouter
Inn; here I floated a stretch of the Mississippi with a slave named Jim.
We live through life, but we live through art, too. And in art, as in
life, nothing is generalized. No one thing is a copy of the next.
Everything is individual.
Look, Earth is four and a half billion years old. The rocks in your
backyard are moving, if only you could stand still enough to watch. How
are we supposed to measure the brief, warm, intensely complicated
fingersnap of our lives against the absolutely incomprehensible vastness
of the universe?
How? We stare into the fire. We turn to friends, bartenders, lovers,
priests, drug-dealers, painters. And we turn to books.
All around us right now, tucked into the valleys and along the coasts,
bookshops glow in the winter light. Think of them like singular,
magical, and multi-dimensional recipe boxes. They wait for us to pluck
out a card, to stand over the stove, to start cooking.
I, for one, am deeply grateful for their existence.
(Originally written for The Northwest Book Lovers Blog:
MEMORY WALL by Anthony Doerr won a 2011 Book Award from the Pacific
Northwest Booksellers Association.)
LIGHTS OUT FOR A DIFFERENT LIGHT
(From San Francisco Chronicle, April 2011)
It's the last few days for the last of its kind.
A Different Light Bookstore, the last of a once-proud family of gay
literary spots and a beacon of homosexual life in the Castro, will be
out of business by the end of the month.
The window displays have for-lease and half-off signs, but there
isn't much to take half off of. The back shelves are bare, and the front
shelves are scattered with books and porn.
"As far as we know, there are no LGBT bookstores left in the state,
at least ones selling new books," says Hut Landon, executive director of
the Northern California Booksellers Association.
A store manager, who declined to give her name, said the closing date
will be determined by sales, but she confirmed that "we're definitely
closing by the end of April." Steve Murphy, the landlord's real estate agent, said that any day could be the last.
At least once a week for 23 years, Gerard Koskovich has stopped into
the bookstore on Castro Street. As a curator of the Gay, Lesbian,
Bisexual, Transgender History Museum, he is a field archivist, and this
storefront has been the place to find ephemera.
"From the moment it was founded, this store became a cultural center
for the emerging queer community in the late 1980s," says Koskovich,
while standing out front, just down from the marquee for the Castro
Theatre. "Events, exhibitions, panel discussions, basically any
important gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender author you can think of
who published in English gave a reading at A Different Light at some
Sales move online
More than the chain stores, it was online booksellers that wiped out
the gay bookstores, along with all other specialty bookstores, says
Landon: "Amazon lists everything, they sell it cheaper, and they don't
collect sales tax."
According to Koskovich's research, 2011 marks the 45th anniversary of
the opening of the first gay bookstore in America, the Adonis in the
Tenderloin. Then came the Walt Whitman Bookshop, and it wasn't that long
ago that there were two gay bookstores on Castro Street and one around
the corner on Market. They are all gone.
Koskovich agrees with Landon on the reasons for the demise of gay
bookstores. Younger readers in particular buy their books online, he
"I find it troubling that we no longer have physical places to
discover the books that matter to us and the people who share these
interests," he says. "I'm not sure that online bookstores create the
same opportunities for creating community and bringing about social
The Castro store opened in 1985, as a sister to the original A
Different Light, which opened in the Silver Lake District of Los Angeles
in 1979. Business partners Norman Laurila and George Leigh came down
from Toronto to open the store, which was named after a gay science
fiction novel by San Francisco author Elizabeth Lynn.
Laurila's life partner, Richard Labonte, took over as manager in Los
Angeles when Laurila moved to New York to open the Greenwich Village
store in 1983. "We preferred to call it a 'bracelet,' " says Labonte,
reached by phone in British Columbia, where he now lives. "The word
'chain' sounds so Barnes and Noble."
The Castro branch opened in the location of the Obelisk, a high-end design store. Labonte became store manager there in 1986.
Center for activism
"It became a social center," Labonte says. "There were other
gay-oriented stores in the Castro, but ours was a store that used books
to draw people in. We had art shows and reading groups. We organized the
first two Outwrite Conferences of gay writers in the country." The
first one, in 1990, attracted 1,000 participants and was held at a
The stores became so well known nationally that when a liberationist
and aspiring author named Tommi Avicolli Mecca came out from
Philadelphia in 1991, he had a job lined up at A Different Light.
"In those days the Castro was a lot more activist-oriented," says
Avicolli Mecca, who worked at the store for 10 years. "ACT UP had its
meetings in the backyard, and the store was very much about the
community in addition to selling books."
One of the hallmarks of the place was that it would accept just about
any form of work on paper, either for sale or giveaway. Another
hallmark was the author events. Avicolli Mecca held three here, though
the biggest crowd anyone can recall was for Olympic diver Greg Louganis,
whose appearance to promote his autobiography drew a line around the
"The place was crammed with books, and they had an open policy on
taking things on consignment," Koskovich says. "Any local author artist,
or author, a person who was making a zine or self-published book or
greeting cards could come in and consign a few. So it was a store where
you were constantly discovering the cutting edge, the things that were
They're all gone
Now, all three of the Different Lights will have disappeared.
"It's a real loss for our culture in general because GLBT stores, as
with most specialty stores, curate their stock and selection," Landon
says. "You knew when you went into a Different Light that you really had
experts who were culling through all the GLBT stuff out there and
choosing it for readers.
"If they're gone, you've lost that expertise that they brought to bookselling."
Civil Rights Alert -- Your Freedom to Buy and Read Books
BANNED BOOKS WEEK SUMMARY
lDuring the last week of September every year, hundreds of libraries and bookstores around the country draw attention to the problem of censorship by mounting displays of challenged books and hosting a variety of events. It is sponsored by the American Library Association and several allied groups.
How is the list of most challenged books tabulated?
The American Library Association (ALA) collects information from two sources: newspapers and reports submitted by individuals, some of whom use the Challenge Database Form. All challenges are compiled into a database. Reports of challenges culled from newspapers across the country are compiled in the bimonthly Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom (published by the ALA, $40 per year); those reports are then compiled in the Banned Books Week Resource Guide. Challenges reported to the ALA by individuals are kept confidential. In these cases, ALA will release only the title of the book being challenged, the state and the type of institution (school, public library). The name of the institution and its town will not be disclosed.
THE GLBT SIDE OF THE BANNED BOOKS LIST (Commentary by author Patricia Nell Warren, from the Bilerico Project blog, Sept. 29, 2009)
Banned Books Week is an annual happening that celebrates the First Amendment freedom to get your hands on a book, whether for information or a good story. BBW also points up the dangers and insanities of censorship. I selected my Top 10 from the banned-books list of 2007-08 (pdf) because they were targeted for homosexual content. In alphabetical order, they are:
AND TANGO MAKES THREE, Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell (Simon & Schuster). Challenged at the Lodi County Public Library in California because "it's a homosexual story line that has been sugarcoated with cute penguins."
BLACK BOY by Richard Wright (Harper). Challenged in the Howell, Mich. high school because of "strong sexual content." Reviewed by county law enforcement to see whether laws against distribution of sexually explicit materials to minors had been violated.
THE CHOCOLATE WAR, by Robert Cormier (Dell; Pantheon) Challenged at the Harford County High School in MD because it is "peppered with profanities, ranging from derogatory slang terms to sexual encounters and violence."
FALLEN ANGELS, by Walter Dean Myers (Scholastic). Challenged at Chinquapin Elementary School in Duplin County, MC because it "is littered with hundreds of expletives, including racial epithets and slang terms for homosexuals."
KAFFIR BOY by Mark Mathabane (NAL). Banned from the Burlingame (CA) Intermediate School because of "two graphic paragraphs describing men preparing to engage in anal sex with young boys."
THE KITE RUNNER by Khaled Hosseini (Bloomsbury). Challenged in Freedom (!) High School in Morganton, NC because it "depicts a sodomy rape in graphic detail and uses vulgar language."
KING & KING by Linda de Haan and Stern Nijland (Tricycle Press) Subject: gay marriage. Challenged at a Lexington, MA grade school because "by presenting this kind of issue at such a young age, they're trying to indoctrinage our children."
RAINBOW BOYS by Alex Sanchez (Simon & Schuster). Challenged in the Webster, NY Central School District because of "explicit sexual content."
RUNNING WITH SCISSORS, by Augusten Burroughs (St. Martin) Challenged in the Howell, Mich. high school because of "strong sexual content" and alleged to be in violation of local laws prohibiting distribution of sexually explicit material to minors.
THE WHOLE LESBIAN SEX BOOK, by Felice Newman (Cleis Press). Banned from the Bentonville, Ark. Public Library and the city fined $20,000 under Arkansas obscenity law. The library was accused of following "an immoral social agenda."
"Challenged" means that a big local kerfuffle happened, following which the book was put back on the shelf and kept available in some way. "Banned" means that local politicking got a book off the shelf for good. In some cases, the school or library is actually investigated by local law enforcement for having allegedly broken local censorship laws. It may surprise readers to know that how strict local or state laws can be, because of the religious right's influence on whether minors can have access to certain materials.
My picks range from current Amazon top-sellers to classics like Richard Wright's Black Boy. Bookburners often have long-time smouldering grudges against certain classics, like Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn, and keep them on the list year after year.
The process of challenging and banning books, in both public libraries and K-12 schools across the country, is very revealing about the "moral" or "ethical" quirks that can spark little groups of locals into a frenzy of lobbying. A surprising number of parents want to censor books because of what they see as "blasphemy," or "the occult." Others want books off the shelf simply because they object to any slang and profanity. One book was challenged because of just two cuss words in it. Two books about Cuba were challenged because a few people thought the author's views on that country were too liberal.
Nor is every book-burner a conservative. Some pacifist liberals want books sent to the dumpster because violence, war, bombs and soldiers are mentioned. The banned-books list of 2007-08 lists every one of Rowling's Harry Potter books, because they are the latest and biggest target of the anti-occult faction.
What Can We Do?
How can we fight book-banning? Buy books that are challenged. Spread them around. Give them to friends and family, or people who need to read them. Donate them to public libraries. Today library budgets are so drastically cut that often a public library can't even afford to buy new titles....
Today Americans buy fewer and fewer books -- and that includes LGBT Americans, who buy only a fraction of what they bought 20 years ago. The gay publishing industry is experiencing a lethal squeeze because of slumping sales...and because many of our own media no longer pay much attention to LGBT books and authors. Instead they focus on movies, TV, tabloid celebrities and politics.
Last but not least, shout out for free speech in local censorship fights -- even those involving non-LGBT books. Often the bookburners win simply because they are the biggest and loudest faction. Take it from an author whose novel THE FRONT RUNNER has been challenged on and off since the 1970s. LGBT books got onto the world map because people bought them and supported them. They will stay on that map only if enough of us keep on buying them and supporting them.
* * * * * * * * .
14th Annual BookFinder.com Report
Out-of-print and in demand
Welcome to the 14th annual BookFinder.com Report, in which we
publish a list of the most searched for out-of-print book titles from
the previous year. (2016) HBO's revival of Michael Crichton's science fiction
thriller Westworld was one of the best things on TV in the past 12 months. The series,
about a Western-themed amusement park populated by robots, also turned a
humble paperback, published in 1974, into the most searched for
out-of-print book of 2016.
Crichton - author of Jurassic Park and Andromeda Strain - wrote the original script for Westworld, which was released as a
movie in November 1973 with Yul Brynner in the lead role as a black-clad
A companion book was published in 1974 by Bantam/Pocket Books but
it's utterly out-of-print. The book contains the movie script, an
introduction from Crichton, and photographs from the film. It is not a
novelization of the Westworld story. We suspect that science fiction
fans are looking for this book with the expectation that it's a novel.
In reality, it's a little piece of 1970s movie history.
There were more searches for Westworld than any other out-of-print book in 2016, beating even Madonna and her famousSex book. Prices for Westworld begin at $125 with only a handful of copies
available. Copies of Westworld have been selling for prices up to $400
since the reboot series aired.
The 10-part series premiered on October 2 and concluded on December
4. Crichton died in 2008 so any novelization of Westworld will need to
come from somebody else if it happens.
One book that just failed to make the top 30 is Bare by George Michael. The former Wham singer died on Christmas Day in 2016
and since then there has been massive interest in this out-of-print
autobiography from 1991.
| 1. Westworld
by Michael Crichton
in to watch the 2016 reboot of Crichton's story of amusement park
shenanigans and thousands wanted to read more. This is the companion
book published after the release of the 1973 movie - there is no
novelization of the Westworld story.
| 2. Sex
1992, Sex is never going to be republished. It's rude but harmless.
Madonna flaunts herself across a multitude of erotic scenarios. Sex has
sturdy aluminum covers which makes it rather durable, and also means
that this book won't rust.
| 3. Permaculture: A Designers Manual
by Bill Mollison
agriculture that works in harmony with ecosystems. Sustainable farming
in other words. Surely, there's a market for this book?
| 4. Unintended Consequences
by John Ross
A thinly disguised novel promoting gun culture and gun rights that includes fictionalized accounts of historical events.
| 5. Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns
by Barbara Brackman
often don't stay in print for long. This one from 1993 was published by
the American Quilters Society. Brackman is a quilting historian.
| 6. Finding the Winning Edge
by Bill Walsh
three-time Super Bowl winning coach of the San Francisco 49ers. Walsh
took a struggling 49ers team and turned them into a dynasty in the 1980s
earning him a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
| 7. Mastering Atmosphere & Mood in Watercolor
by Joseph Zbukvic
that artists need to use watercolor clocks. A "clock" accompanies every
visual example, helping artists anticipate how the condition of the
paper will react to various watercolor mixes.
| 8. Fast Times at Ridgemont High
by Cameron Crowe
coming-of-age book became a film in 1982 starring Sean Penn and Jennifer
Jason Leigh. This book is a collector's item and often carries
three-figure price-tags. Fantastic cheerleader cover.
| 9. Margin of Risk: Risk-Averse Value Investing Strategies for the Thoughtful Investor
by Seth Klarman
scarce of this investing manual from 1991. Taking its title from
Benjamin Graham's often-repeated mantra, Klarman explains the philosophy
of value investing, and the logic behind it.
| 10. Alla Prima: Everything I Know About Painting
by Richard Schmid
masterpiece for classical painting instruction. Excellent words of
wisdom from one of the greatest painters of today.
| 11. Rage
by Richard Bachman/Stephen King
This novel is a
perennial on the BookFinder.com out-of-print list. It describes a
school shooting and King will never bring it back into print for obvious
| 12. The Vision and Beyond, Prophecies Fulfilled and Still to Come
by David Wilkerson
2003, this cheerful book, biblical in nature, describes how the world is
racing toward Armageddon. After the events of 2016, this might just be
| 13. Sled Driver: Flying the World?s Fastest Jet
by Brian Schul
USAF pilot Shul
fought in Vietnam, where he flew 212 combat missions. He was shot down
and so badly burned that he was expected to die. He returned to full
flight status and retired as a major.
| 14. Bandit Country: The IRA and South Armagh
by Toby Harnden
Published in 1999, English journalist Toby Harnden offers a deep perspective on Northern Ireland's Troubles.
| 15. Snake
by Kenny Stabler
football book, this time the autobiography of the former quarterback of
the Oakland Raiders, one of the wild men of the sport, who died in 2015.
| 16. Halloween
by Curtis Richards
"Trick or treat
or die." Lovely. This is the 1979 novelization of the 1978 horror film
that turned Michael Myers into a big name in slasher movies.
| 17. Parts Work: An Illustrated Guide to Your Inner Life
by Tom Holmes
A self help book from 2011 that describes our inner psychological world and helps us avoid bad habits.
| 18. Promise Me Tomorrow
by Nora Roberts
Love in Paris! An early example of romance from Roberts who swears this one won't be coming back into print.
| 19. Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper - Case Closed
by Patricia Cornwell
combines 21st century police investigation with forensic techniques
undreamed of during the late Victorian era to solve these infamous
crimes. A good read.
| 20. Down Through the Years
by Jean Shepard
died in September 2016, was a pioneer for women in country music. The
singer-songwriter recorded 24 albums. At the time of her death, she was
the longest-running living member of the Grand Ole Opry.
| 21. The Sisters: Babe Mortimer Paley, Betsy Roosevelt Whitney, Minnie Astor
Fosburgh: The Lives and Times of the Fabulous Cushing Sisters
by David Grafton
read, this time about marrying for money. One Cushing sister married a
Roosevelt, one an Astor and the third married Bill Paley, CEO of CBS.
| 22. Me and My Likker
by Popcorn Sutton
Very scarce. Buy one if you see it. Popcorn Sutton is a moonshine
distiller and a living legend in the mountains of Tennessee. Colorful,
obscene - his story in his language.
| 23. Monte Walsh
by Jack Schaefer
Amazing story -
no copies available. Buy one if you see it. Popcorn Sutton is a
moonshine distiller and a living legend in the mountains of Tennessee.
Colorful, obscene - his story in his language.
| 24. Lost Moon: The Perilous Voyage of Apollo 13
by Jack Schaefer
Lovell is the astronaut who said, "Houston, we've got a problem." This 1994 book is a memorable account of NASA's finest hour.
| 25. The Making of Star Trek
by Stephen E Whitfield & Gene Roddenberry
history of the original TV series from conception, design and scripting
to how the finished product was produced and sold. Handsome William
Shatner, emotionless Leonard Nimoy, young George Takei and the first
interracial kiss on US TV.
| 26. The Last Course: The Desserts of the Gramercy Tavern
by Claudia Fleming
A cookbook for
people with a sweet tooth. Fleming rose to prominence as the pastry chef
at the Gramercy Tavern in New York. You can now enjoy her desserts at
The North Fork Table & Inn, one of Long Island's finest restaurants.
| 27. A Life Worth Living
by Lady Colin Campbell
A memoir about
being an aristocrat with a big twist. Lady Colin Campbell was born with
mixed gender and later had surgery to become wholly female. A remarkable
| 28. The Essential Woodworker: Skills, Tools and Methods
by Robert Wearing
Last published in 2010. A simple but much in demand woodworking manual.
| 29. Women and Men
by Joseph McElroy
1,192-page novel that is challenging to read. The plot, which is about
families (we think), jumps around in time and features a McGuffin.
| 30. The Art of Holly Hobbie
by Holly Hobbie
Holly Hobbie is
an American writer and illustrator, and the name of a fictional
character. That character is a little girl who loves cats and wears a
patchwork dress. Millions of young girls have enjoyed the Holly Hobbie
books, toys, TV series, and movie.
MORE ODDS & ENDS ABOUT BOOKS