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Iowa Man Burns Library’s LGBTQ Kids Books

Screenshot from video posted to Rescue The Perishing on Facebook

Yet another reminder to support your local library: last week a Christian fundamentalist blogger in Iowa checked out all the LGBT+ books for kids at the Orange City branch, and then filmed himself burning them. This is illegal, by the way – the city’s police chief told reporters that legal action is “being discussed.” The linked article also reminds readers that 2018 has seen many more instances of groups trying to get books such as David Levithan’sย Two Boys Kissing removed from their local libraries; while not as flagrant as physically destroying them, these efforts achieves the same aim.

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The Children’s Birthday Cake Book has become an integral part of birthday traditions to several generations of Australian kids. This fall, author Pamela Clark spoke up about how this colorful book came to be, pointing out how insane the project is in retrospect. “In that book there are 106 [cakes],” she says. “We wouldn’t do that number of cakes in any kid’s cake book now.” This kind of ambition resulted in some cake designs that she’d take back if she could: “If you’re picking up this book for the very first time, turn to the tip truck and glue those pages together, and never look back.”

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These days, calls to find “common ground” are frustratingly abundant, and An American Marriage author Tayari Jones offers TIMEย Magazine her perspective on why there’s nothing inherently virtuous about aiming squarely for the middle in any given issue. “When we revisit our shameful past, ask yourself, Where was the middle?” she asks. “What is halfway between moral and immoral?” In the interest of simply avoiding conflict and rancor, you could end up permitting all kinds of events that, in retrospect, Americans had no business considering in the first place. Drawing upon her own background as the child of activists, Jones urges us to resist the temptations of political centrism, particularly as they relate to other people’s safety and civil rights.

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What words share your birthday? People have been having a lot of fun with Merriam-Webster’s new “time-traveler” feature, which invites visitors to plug in the date of their birth and all the terms that were added to the dictionary that year. For example, those (like myself) who were born in 1979 arrived at the same moment in culture as words like “biophilia,” “California roll,” and “colorize” (but also “MRSA” and “freebase”). It’s fascinating to consider that, no matter what comes up in your search, these were words you grew up taking for granted, not realizing they were scarcely any older than yourself.

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If you’re a woman and a writer, then a very special rite of passage awaits you: while trying to prove his point during an argument, a man unwittingly sends you a link to an article you wrote. Author Lizzie Borden Lenz is the latest to achieve this milestone, and her posting about the experience on Twitter produced responses from others in this not-so-exclusive club, including Rebecca Solnit. Lenz’s takeaway: “Dating as a writer is wild why did no one tell me.”

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Climate-fiction (or “cli-fi”) is not only helping to warn against the impending disasters related to climate change, it’s gradually affecting the public’s perception of what the scale of the problem really is, and how impossible it is for any of us to be objective enough on these matters to arrive at realistic solutions. Exploring the impact of fiction on reality (and vice versa), Gizmodo talks to Annihilation author Jeff Vandermeer, who points out: “We keep de-linking the environment from our condition…We keep thinking of it as โ€˜this thing over thereโ€™ and weโ€™re over here. Thatโ€™s part of how we manage to kill ourselves.”

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Among the major delights of writing is choosing a topic purely for the fun of it. Helen Hofling lights the way with this series of poems to inanimate objects, such as “letter from a leaf to a ramekin.” By settling into an epistolary style, she’s able to hone in on something absurd or even completely impossible, and then make the letters dance in a way that inspires one to look around the room and figure out which two random objects are very obviously in love.

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Among this past weekend’s tragic losses, poet and novelistย Ntozake Shange passed away at the age of 70; this news inspired an outpouring of grief and remembrance from those whose lives were touched by Shange’s best-known work, For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf.ย  , including Kerry Washington, Uzo Aduba, and Julie Dash. Compiling these reactions on Twitter and beyond, CNN addresses the tremendous creative space Shange’s words opened up for women who had never previously encountered words like these printed on a page before, let alone spoken out loud. Be sure to look for tribute performances of this seminal work all around the country, now that Shange has finally found the end of her own rainbow.

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Today’s prison system may seem drastically different than that of our forefathers, but it has proven to serve many of the same purposes, particularly in terms of preserving our nation’s reliance on slave labor. Here on our home site, Lorraine Berry has composed a master list of books about prison, incarceration, and the justice system, each holding up a mirror that challenges presumptions about American freedom, which literally anyone can run afoul of. As Angela Davis once wrote: “If they come for me in the morning, they will come for you in the night.”

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Which film’s is the definitive Count Dracula, and how important is it that you find him physically attractive? These are questioned raised by gay horror blog My New Plaid Pants as it casts a backward glance – and a fair amount of side-eye – at Gary Oldman’s portrayal in the 1992 adaptation “Bram Stoker’s Dracula.” (You may remember that a mustache and John Lennon sunglasses are involved.) Like evil, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so you’re welcome to take the blog’s poll and vote Oldman’s favor. Or perhaps you reached the same conclusion – that the film’s mustachioed Dracula is basically redundant “because Miss Lucy already has two perfectly ride-able mustaches right there at her disposal,” in the form of Cary Elwes and Billy Campbell. Enjoy a flashback via the film’s original trailer below.