Banned in Texas prisons: Books lead to dangerous minds

I'll admit it: I've never been in prison. Despite the "Fortune and Men's Eyes" fantasies, I've managed to steer clear of the long arm of the law. While reading "Shelf Awareness" this morning, I had my aversion to the penal system confirmed--at least in Texas.

Novels by National Book Award winners Pete Dexter, Joyce Carol Oates, Annie Proulx and William T. Vollmann have been banned in recent years. Award finalists Katherine Dunn and Barry Hannah are on the Texas no-read list, too, as are Pulitzer Prize winners Alice Walker, Robert Penn Warren and John Updike.

Prisoners can't peruse certain books by Pablo Neruda and Andre Gide, both Nobel laureates. "Krik? Krak!" by Haitian writer Edwidge Danticat, who last year won a MacArthur "genius" grant, is prohibited behind Lone Star bars. Books of paintings by some of the world's greatest artists — da Vinci, Picasso, Botticelli, Michelangelo — have been ordered out of state correctional facilities.

Now, I haven't read all these authors (sorry, Barry and Pete), but I'm finding it hard to find a common thread. I can only imagine that the censors gleaned some sense of danger and/or sexuality from the works of these writers. Now that I think about it, Dunn's "Geek Love" and Proulx's "Brokeback Mountain" could easily start a riot. And just thinking about looking at Botticelli's nudes sends me into a frenzy.

Good work, Texas. You have saved us all from these dangerous people AND literacy. Kudos.


Posted via web from toddx's posterous


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