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.
The 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
Praying their 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
Many women 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 discern.
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 Florida.
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 )
For retired 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.
In his 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.
Recounting his 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 lifestyles.
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 Twilightseries 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 be printed.
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 memories.
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 different results?
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: http://www.nwbooklovers.org/category/nw-voices/ 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 point."
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 says.
"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 change."
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.
"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 downtown hotel.
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 block.
"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 being created."
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.
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."