Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Banned Books: Forever

Today, my blog is being taken over by my friend, author and comedienne Nancy Howland Walker. Actually, she's currently working on a cruise somewhere off the coast of South America, where her biggest dilemma is needing a new pair of sandals 'cuz she's worn out two pairs with all the fun she's having....

...but she managed to take time out of her busy schedule to weigh in on the subject and celebrate Banned Book Week with us. Take it away, Nancy!

Banned Book Week
by Nancy Howland Walker

Banning books? I’m all for it! 

No, not because I’m some rabid Christian Coalition right-winger who wants to protect our youth from morally corrupt influences, and not because I’m an Authoritarian nut job who sees “Muslims” and “Socialists” in every shadow and  wants to protect our fragile American society from subversive concepts. But for the simple and universal truth – You want what you can’t have!
If you (or anybody!) are told that you absolutely can’t have something, chances are that you will wish for, fantasize and dream about that thing and chase it with fevered abandon. And if you actually DO come to possess the prized object, it will become your “Precious.” You will lovingly examine it and jealously guard it, clenching onto it like a dog does his favorite toy.

I was a Russian major in college, and learned all about the cultural underground of the Soviet Union. Because the State kept a tight, controlling grip on speech, Soviet citizens could not take books for granted. Literature was valued highly, studied and discussed, and an intellectually vibrant arts culture formed. (Hey! I actually retained something from college?!)

My own experience with banned books goes like this: In sixth grade, I became aware of Judy Blume’s best seller, FOREVER. I didn’t know anything about this book, except that it had “sex parts” in it, and everyone’s Mom had forbidden everyone to read it. Hence, EVERYONE was trying to find a copy and read it! This of course meant that I also developed a burning desire to hold the book in my hot little hands and find out what was deemed so inappropriate for us. When I got home from school, I rushed to my mother and told her about this controversial book and asked her if I could read it. From what my friends said about their mothers’ reactions, I fully expected MY Mom to fly off the handle and forbid even saying the title or looking at its cover!  But she said yes, like it was no big deal, and that I could read it. That all-consuming, obsessive, burning desire I had had only a moment before fizzled right there and then into nothingness.

So as an author, I say, “Ban my book!” Please. Make a big deal over it, telling people of all ages that they cannot and should not read about how to create songs on the spot. That instant songwriting is morally and culturally subversive!  Indeed, that songwriting of ANY kind will stop the universe and lead to the destruction of all creatures great and small, and therefore my book is forbidden! Then I will SURELY be number one in my category on Amazon!

Oh, and by the way, I have yet to read FOREVER.

 * * *
In addition to being a fabulous friend and a certified ne'er-do-well who flits around the globe (and gets paid for it), Nancy is a comedienne, actress, and author of INSTANT SONGWRITING.
Instant Songwriting is the ultimate how-to book for musical improvisers and an excellent resource for songwriters. With over two decades of musical improv experience, Nancy Howland Walker guides you with clear, logical and fun step-by-step exercises, from the very basics of putting a song together, to highly advanced song techniques. Whether you are new to the art form or experienced, your songs are improvised or written, or you do this for fun or profit, Instant Songwriting helps you take your song skills to the next level. Musical tracks are included for each exercise – to accompany you as you practice and master each step along the way. Now go and become the Songwriting Diva you were meant to be!

It's available on Amazon - and it might be banned any day now, so go buy your copy as soon as possible!

What are you reading to celebrate Banned Book Week?


  1. Thanks, Nancy, for a fun post!

    I did read Forever back in the day. My mom let me buy it with my babysitting money that summer it came out in paperback. I took it to summer camp with me and EVERY girl in my unit wanted to borrow it because her mother wouldn't let her read it. The power of "banned" books ;-)

  2. lol, I like your take on banned books. It's so true though. We always want what we can't have.


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