At this year’s celebration of national Banned Books Week, local artists will reimagine the covers of banned or threatened literature and display their work at the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library — while a man lives 24/7 in its plate-glass window, in a “prison” of banned books.
Right here in the United States, books are still being challenged and banned. Censorship is alive and well, which is why the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library reminds us of its dangers during national Banned Books Weeks, Sept. 22-30 this year.
Parents are the No. 1 initiator of challenges to books, and they appear to fear sex more than bad language or violence. Since 1990, parents have issued nearly 3,200 challenges because of sexual explicitness, and more than 2,600 for offensive language.
Local writer Hugh Vandivier — who has interviewed Kurt Vonnegut — will be “Locked Up With Vonnegut,” living in the library for the week. He’s also curating “Banned Books Recovered,” an invitational art show and sale.
Other events include:
• First Amendment Film Fest — The Vonnegut Library will screen “Slaughterhouse-Five,” the 1972 film based on the novel; “Howl,” with James Franco as Allen Ginsberg; and “Good Night and Good Luck” with George Clooney, about censorship in the early days of TV news.
• “Corrupting Our Kids: The Attack on YA Literature” Discussion by Chris Finan, author and president of American Booksellers for Free Expression.
• “Hugh’s Bedtime Stories” — local and national artists, writers, and celebrities will read to Vandivier from banned books.
Leading up to the week, performance artist Tim Youd of Los Angeles will type Vonnegut’s Breakfast of Champions in its entirely on one single sheet of paper, using the same model of typewriter the author used. As he types, Youd will read the text aloud.
Some programs are made possible by a grant from the Judith F. Krug Memorial Fund, a part of the Freedom to Read Foundation.
All events will be free to the public, and the library will remain open until 7 p.m. (later on movie nights) during Banned Books Week (including Wednesday, its usual closing day).
Visit the website VonnegutLibrary.org or call 652-1954 for more information about events or to donate to the Banned Books Week Fund to support this program at the Vonnegut Library.