Please ban my books – New York Daily News
Over the past 10 years, I’ve had four novels published, and while reviews were mostly decent, sales were just south of lackluster. This recently inspired my agent to suggest I write a blockbuster to save my career. She was not facetious. I gave him a week of torture, got nowhere, and ended up deleting everything I wrote, which was a first line (“One week after Lawrence was murdered in Cleveland, he reappeared in Tijuana selling sombreros to tourists at a beach called Los Muertos, which is Spanish for ‘the dead.’”)
Speaking of deaths, there was only one other way to resurrect my career of permanent literary burial. I would have to put one of my novels on the new list of banned books.
Although Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and other red state chief executives haven’t technically banned any specific books, new legislation in theirs and other States allows parents, teachers, and librarians to challenge any book they deem “inappropriate.” Currently, the focus is primarily on novels that explore LGBTQ identity issues, but the law leaves the door wide open.
DeSantis also favored the rejection of a record number of math textbooks, reasoning that they contained “indoctrination…racial essentialism,” which is code for critical race theory. Keep in mind that this is a governor who graduated with honors from Yale Law School and Harvard and taught history (the story!). Now he rejects math textbooks for silly reasons that are nothing more than Republican whistles. Could he be a presidential candidate? No.
These laws are seen by many as the equivalent of outright literary censorship. As a result, books that were banned in the past are back in the public spotlight. Lists and copies of formerly banned books abound on Internet bookstores. The Brooklyn Public Library started a project giving teenagers all over America access to books that may be banned in their schools. There was a Banned Book Week recently where readers celebrated the books that have been pulled from school and library shelves for a variety of absurd reasons over the years. In protest or just out of curiosity, people buy them as if there is an embargo.
It’s a proven dynamic: tell people they can’t read a book – say “Ulysses” — and they will go to a bookseller where they can find it, buy a copy wrapped in newspaper, try to read it and end up looking for the dirty parts.
Over the years, hundreds of books – fiction and non-fiction – have been pulled from library shelves and classrooms. Some remain absent to this day. Many of these books contain elements that certain moralizing types once found or still find unacceptable, such as profanity, vulgarity, descriptions of nudity and sex, or political themes that deviate from the mainstream.
Most sexual content is restrained by today’s standards. (Fun fact: “Charlotte’s Web” was banned in a Kansas school district in 2006 because talking animals were considered unnatural and therefore blasphemous. Is “Pinocchio” next? has that suggestive nose…)
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Given these criteria, my novels should definitely be banned! Perhaps none of them are taught in classrooms, but most reside on library shelves from Montana to Florida. Most likely no one has ever checked any of them, but I could easily create an online marketing campaign to convince conservative librarians, school boards, and Ron DeSantis that my novels are offensive and should be taken off the shelves.
For example: In one of my books, an amateur historian discovers that President Millard Fillmore was gay. In another, a colonoscopy is described in detail, and we all know what part of the human body this procedure involves. One of my protagonists does not respect his mother and father, commits adultery and frequently takes God’s name in vain, a biblical trifecta!
Even better, a character’s grandmother was a Holocaust survivor. According to some book banners, the Holocaust was a hoax – so auf wiedersehen to this novel.
Critical Race Theory isn’t in any of my books, but since it’s mostly fantasy, it doesn’t have to be in the book for people to say it’s in the book.
Landing on the banned books list isn’t just about the money. It would be a distinct honor for my name to appear on a list that includes such literary giants as Gustave Flaubert, James Baldwin, John Steinbeck, George Orwell, Ray Bradbury, Toni Morrison, Harper Lee, JD Salinger and Kurt Vonnegut, to name but a few. only a few whose books have been banned in the past or still are in some places.
Govt. DeSantis and Abbott, parents, school boards, librarians, please ban my books! Or maybe just one. I’m not greedy.
Blumenthal is a writer.