This week is Banned Books Week — a week to celebrate our freedom to read anything we damn well please, but also to highlight attempts to censure that freedom. I find it more than a little bit interesting how the list of banned books overlaps significantly with several lists (pick your favorite) of the top books of all time. That would be a heck of a venn diagram. Nothing sells a book like being told you can’t read it. It’s a little like telling your teenage daughter she can’t go out with that boy (you know the one) — you may as well invite him to dinner. Challenge accepted.
Pat Conroy is one of my favorite authors of all time. The man can write a sentence. In 2007, the Kanawha County School Board in West Virginia attempted to ban both The Prince of Tides and Beach Music from high school AP English classes — because they contain offensive language, violence, and sexually explicit material. I can’t stand it when someone does my thinking for me. I’ll think for myself, thankyouverymuch. Conroy wrote a brilliant letter to the editor in response to the banners, saying, “the world of literature has everything in it, and it refuses to leave anything out.”
Like I said, the man can write a sentence.
So, in celebration of Banned Books Week, I started re-reading my dog-eared copy of the “filthy, vomit-inducing work“, The Prince of Tides, yesterday. And wouldn’t you know it, wine makes an appearance in the Prince of Tides not once, but 30 times. I know this because I also own The Prince of Tides on my Kindle, and dang if the “search this book” feature on the Kindle isn’t handy. But my favorite wine passage in The Prince of Tides is this:
I never really thought about the ritual of restaurant wine service as a small drama, but that’s a perfect description. A snappy sommelier and all that sniffing, swirling, and tasting — it’s practically theater. I’ll admit it’s a ceremony that used to intimidate me, but now that I know my way around a wine list, it’s a comforting ritual. And I look forward to it as the prelude to a meal.
And the night’s long siege against the migraine? Been there.
Tonight, I will raise my glass to Pat Conroy, and all the other authors who have had their words censured. Thanks for writing the world as you see it, and for not leaving anything out.
Do you have a favorite banned book(s)??