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Amazon's Censorship Policy

Written by Gary Glass Sunday, 12 April 2009 20:42

Mark R. Probst writes on his blog that has instituted a new policy of excluding from sales rankings and some searches books which they deem to have adult content. Guess what they consider to be adult? Playboy centerfolds? Nope. Racist rants? Nope. Pornography? Nope. What then? Mostly, gay and lesbian literature. For instance? Here's a few examples:

  • James Baldwin's Giovanni's Room
  • Annie Proulx's Brokeback Mountain
  • Christopher Isherwood's A Single Man
  • Edmund White's The Beautiful Room Is Empty
  • Robert Adrich's Who's Who in Gay and Lesbian History
  • E M Forster's Maurice
  • Mary Renault's The Charioteer
  • Dr. Nathaniel Frank's Unfriendly Fire: How the Gay Ban Undermines the Military and Weakens America
  • Rictor Norton's Mother Clap's Molly House: The Gay Subculture in England 1700-1830
  • Vito Russo's Celluloid Closet
  • Marion Zimmer Bradley's The Catch Trap
  • Randy Shilts' Conduct Unbecoming: Gays and Lesbians in the U.S. Military

And many many others. There's a growing list here: Meta Writer.

What is the significance of this? As one of our members, a writer and bookseller, succinctly put it: "If the rankings are pulled, the books won't show up in bestseller lists or many searches."

BookBalloon is an Amazon affiliate. Amazon is an outstanding research tool for readers. But I am disgusted by this. It is censorship plain and simple. Help me protest this. Demand that Amazon reverse this policy.


Books into Celluloid: Catch-22

Written by Kelly Cozy Thursday, 26 March 2009 15:23

By Joseph Heller
Published in 1961

Directed by Mike Nichols
Released in 1970
Cast: Alan Arkin
Martin Balsam
Martin Sheen

Sometimes all the talent in the world can’t make a successful movie adaptation.

The story

It’s late in World War II, and Air Force Captain Yossarian is in one hell of a bind. Like every other man in Colonel Cathcart’s battalion, he’s flown a ridiculous number of missions. Yossarian knows it’s only a matter of time before his luck runs out and he’s killed. But he learns that while only a crazy man would agree to fly more missions, by asking to be sent home he proves that he’s sane, and therefore fit to fly. It’s a catch, and it even has a name: Catch-22.

The book

Catch-22 has become such a part of the culture that even people who haven’t read it or seen the film adaptation know what a “catch-22” situation is. Because of this, people who haven’t read the book may feel they know what it’s about, which is a shame; while the joke of catch-22 is funny (and like all the book’s jokes it turns dark in the book’s last few chapters), there’s much more to the novel than that joke.

Read more: Books into Celluloid: Catch-22


Q and A with Kevin Guilfoile

Thursday, 12 March 2009 19:02

altBookBalloon is pleased to host humorist and author Kevin Guilfoile for a Q&A session March 16-18. Kevin is currently serving his fifth term as Commissioner (with John Warner) of the annual Tournament of the Books, sponsored by Powell's and The Morning News. Bring him your questions and comments in the Forum. Registration is free.

Kevin Guilfoile's short humor has been published in the New York Times Magazine, McSweeney's, The New Republic, Maxim, and elsewhere. With John Warner, he co-authored and illustrated the number-one bestselling My First Presidentiary: A Scrapbook By George W. Bush. His first novel, Cast of Shadows, was published in 2005 by Alfred A. Knopf and has been translated into more than 15 languages. Cast of Shadows has been called "gripping" by the New York Times, "a masterpiece of intelligent plotting" by, and was named one of the "Best Books of 2005" by the Chicago Tribune and the Kansas City Star. His second novel, The Thousand, will be released by Alfred A. Knopf later this year. He is also the co-founder and commissioner of the annual Powell's/Morning News Tournament of Books. Guilfoile lives in the Chicago area with his wife and two boys.


Books into Celluloid: The Painted Veil

Written by Kelly Cozy Friday, 13 February 2009 17:13

The Painted Veil
By W. Somerset Maugham
Published in 1925

The Painted Veil
Directed by John Curran
Cast: Naomi Watts
Edward Norton
Liev Schreiber

Sometimes an adaptation can be very faithful and very different at the same time.

The story

In colonial China, Walter and Kitty Fane have never been what you'd call an ideally matched couple. He's a serious-minded, rather humorless bacteriologist. She's a social butterfly who loves gaiety and superficial pleasures. He's madly infatuated with her. She married him to keep from being a spinster. Bored in every way with her husband, Kitty takes up with dashing diplomat Charlie. When Walter learns of the affair he takes an assignment in the cholera-plagued town of Mei-Tan-Fu, and forces Kitty to accompany him.

Read more: Books into Celluloid: The Painted Veil


Q and A with Steve Almond

Written by Elizabeth McCullough Wednesday, 11 February 2009 23:02

BookBalloon welcomes author Steve Almond for a Q&A in the Forum February 24-26:

1. The author has eaten a piece of candy every single day of his entire life…"

Ah, sweet, sweet candy. Steve Almond is perhaps best known for his obsession with confection, chronicled in his book Candyfreak: A Journey Through the Chocolate Underbelly of America. He also is the author of two story collections, My Life in Heavy Metal and The Evil B.B. Chow and Other Stories, and the novel Which Brings Me to You: A Novel in Confessions (with Julianna Baggott). His newest book is a collection of essays, (Not That You Asked): Rants, Exploits, and Obsessions, now out in paperback.

Read more: Q and A with Steve Almond


Page 9 of 12

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The NYRB Reading Club

Speedboat by Renata Adler


"When Speedboat burst on the scene in the late ’70s it was like nothing readers had encountered before. It seemed to disregard the rules of the novel, but it wore its unconventionality with ease. Reading it was a pleasure of a new, unexpected kind." -- New York Review Books

John Leonard said, "Nobody writes better prose than Renata Adler." What do you think? The discussion begins May 15 in the Forum.

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