I feel like I may have slacked a bit and for that I apologize. For a website called Banned Library, I have overlooked an important issue that has happened in the past week. A Missouri school district banned several books, including the classic Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut. I did give a small retweet on the subject, but that was not enough. Now I hear that the Vonnegut Library is offering free copies of the book to students of that school and my heart swells.
When I was younger, I had the great fortune and honor to hear Mr. Vonnegut speak. I was a dumb high school kid with visions of writing the great American novel and yet had not read enough to know who the hilarious and cultured man on the stage was. I only went because my art teacher gave me credit to give a short review of the speech. The man on stage drawing on a chalk board and telling jokes changed my life, in how I view books, plots, characters, authors, and the people around me, the audience. Afterward, I read most if not all of Mr. Vonnegut's books, some I got from the local library and some I scrounged from used book stores. This man changed my life when I was young, stepped in at the right time and told me what literature should be, could be and was. I am forever grateful. I am sorry, Mr. Vonnegut, for allowing this injustice to pass. Everyone should be allowed contact with your art, your message that the world is a strange, upsetting, hilarious mess.
To the school district in Republic, Missouri: May you be humbled that while you refuse to teach your children the ways of the world, the world does not give a damn and will teach them anyway. Please prepare them with our best weapons: books.
"If what Billy Pilgrim learned from the Tralfamadorians is true, that we will all live forever, no matter how dead we may sometimes seem to be, I am not overjoyed. Still--if I am going to spend eternity visiting this moment and that, I'm grateful that so many of those moments are nice."
- Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five