June 19, 2015
Dear Intrepid Readers,
What do these four graphic novel panels have in common?
The Sandman, Neil Gaiman
Like this? Read the Sandman series. Go on….be a rebel.
Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi
Reading books—especially banned books—is also an act of rebellion. Read Persepolis & Persepolis II & enjoy the American right to decide for yourself. (Which we often take for granted.)
Y: The Last Man, Brian K. Vaughan
That document he’s talking about is the one that allows you to read whatever you want to, regardless of whether or not someone else likes it or thinks it has value. Exercise that right & read Y: The Last Man.
Fun Home, Alison Bechdel
Literature captures & explores the parts of our lives that are uncomfortable for us to discuss otherwise. Read Fun Home here.
Since you’re here at NonBinary Review’s website, chances are, your answer would be, “They all examine the human condition through narrative.”
This week at Crafton College in California, the answer was, “A student described these graphic novels as ‘pornography’ and ‘garbage’, and requested these graphic novels be banned from a college-level reading curriculum.”
You read that right. In a college level reading curriculum, a student requested high school level safeties be applied. To say nothing of the disturbing idea that one student feels her opinion of these titles is sufficient to determine their worth for all current and future Crafton College students.
One of the main reasons Zoetic Press was founded is the core belief that humans are hardwired to tell stories. Our stories are what connect us to each other & defy the borders of language, culture, race, sex, nationality, religion…all the flashpoints of human existence which separate us from each other. Not all of these stories have happy endings. These stories are also important—sometimes, more important, even, than the ones that end happily ever after. These are the stories that teach us.
We believe that banned books reveal uncomfortable truths. Uncomfortable truths require us to be quiet & listen to a perspective not our own. They require thought, and growth, and change, and these are the things that we are supposed to investigate as adults, and as students not only in academic institutions, but as students of life—we don’t stop learning with the conferment of a diploma. To stunt our own intellectual growth (and attempt to curb the growth of others) is akin to cutting off our own nose to spite our face.
Banning books doesn’t ban the atrocities and injustices of being alive. Banning books doesn’t erase these things from existence.
Banning books ensures that there will always be atrocities, injustices and tyrants.
We learn from stories. In fairy tales, there are dragons. And we learn that dragons can be killed. If we ban the fairy tale, children become adults who are ill-equipped to survive their first encounter with a dragon. To ban stories is to ensure that dragons will always have the upper hand. We encourage you to read a banned book. Read many banned books. Learn all the ways there are to kill dragons. Because this is how the world becomes a better place.
This week we launched our newest issue of NonBinary Review, themed on Robert W. Chambers’ collection of cosmic horror stories, The King in Yellow. We’re really excited and especially proud of this issue: we’ve made some improvements to the platform & changed up the format of presenting the stories to you. We believe that the reading experience of NBR #5 will be smoother, more intuitive, and that the stories, poems & art we’ve curated for your enjoyment will stay with you long after you finish reading the issue. As always, the issue (as well as Issues 1-4) is completely free—just download the app for your iPhone or iPad.
Next week, we’ll have a brand-spanking new Alphanumeric feature for you on Monday, as well as some new Rhizomatic Ideas posts throughout the week. If you’d like to contribute a blog, or continue the conversation about literary censorship, pitch it to us: firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ve also got something new for you this week: book reviews, so you’ll know where to spend your book money.
Stay in the loop—hit us up on Facebook (Zoetic Press, Lithomobilus), Twitter (@ZoeticPress and Litho) and Pinterest, or see some of our authors reading their work on our YouTube channel. If you’re interested in hearing more from us, sign up for our monthly newsletter. We’re serious about your privacy, and promise not to flood your inbox. If you haven’t already seen what we’re about, download the app and get to reading—it’s free, and available for your iPad and iPhone.
As I sign off this week, I’d like to leave you with this quote to keep in mind, with whatever you choose to read—this week, next month, and for all the years to come:
It is quite possible—overwhelmingly probable, one might guess—that we will always learn more about human life and personality from novels than from scientific psychology.
To learn more about the story or to support the efforts of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund to protect First Amendment rights, click here.
Until next week,
Allie Marini, Managing Editor