Lunch Break Reads: Epic Fail at Banning Books in Idaho, Donald Trump & Donald Sterling Are Awful, Brazil's Olympic Woes, Dead Girl TV Dramas, Diane Keaton, Adjuncts Revolt, Hunter S. Thompson / by Lars Garvey Laing-Peterson

In yet another demonstration of just how far America still has to go to pull itself out of the sewers of ignorance, a group of parents in Idaho recently called the police on junior-high student Brady Kissel... for distributing a book. "Which book?" you ask, fearing the worst. Sherman Alexie's The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, a novel which the enlightened adults who called the police had found a way to ban from the Junior Mountain High School curriculum. As Death and Taxes puts it:


Published in 2007, [Alexie's novel] won the National Book Award and has become popular with young teens, supposedly for its universal themes of fitting in, making sense of race, and sexual discovery.

The sex part (and let’s face it—probably the race part) led parents to lobby Junior Mountain High School to remove it from the syllabus, citing its sexual content (it discusses masturbation) and supposedly anti-Christian content.

Brady Kissel and others started a petition to overturn the ban, collecting 350 names. According to the Daily Dot, Sara Baker and Jennifer Lott of Washington, and a local Boise bookstore, Rediscovered Books, worked with Kissel to raise money to purchase a copy of Alexie's novel for anyone who signed the petition. They raised $3,400, enough money to provide a copy to each signer. The books were distributed, but not before the aforementioned adults called the police, you know, because.

For their part, the police seemed rather confused as to why they had been called, and did nothing to hamper the distribution of the novel. Further, when Alexie's publisher Hachette found out what was going on in Idaho, they sent an additional 350 copies to Rediscovered Books. The book is still banned at Junior Mountain High School, but is available for free at Rediscovered Books for any kid who wants a copy.

There is some poetic and ironic justice in the fact that one group of adults' ignorance has led to hundreds of kids gaining access to an award-winning novel by one of America's best authors. It's nice to see the universe isn't all suffering and pain and Donald Trump.

Speaking of...

Salon is reporting that Donald Trump is defending Clippers owner Donald Sterling, saying Sterling was "set up" by a "girlfriend from hell," who is also "a terrible human being."

The mind boggles. The misogyny and racism here is just overwhelming.

I couldn't have said it better myself, Salon. And seriously, they're both named Donald?

Luckily, we don't have to just take one Donald's word for it. (Well, really, we do, but just go with this, okay?) Donald Sterling "opened up" to the Onion, saying, "...while it is as yet impossible to say who that voice [on the recording] actually belongs to, I have to admit that the person in question certainly made some compelling points."

Speaking of the worst, the Guardian is reporting that "John Coates, the vice-president of the International Olympic Committee, has called Brazil's preparations for the 2016 Rio Games 'the worst' in his experience and critically behind schedule."

And there is no Plan B. I mean, other than Plan Brazil, but no other plan if this all goes terribly, terribly wrong. Which it might.

As I have often found to be the case, the Los Angeles Review of Books writes some damn fine pieces, including this one: "The Oldest Story: Toward a Theory of a Dead Girl Show."

This piece is not without its flaws, but it does cover two of my favorite television shows, Twin Peaks and True Detective, and has wonderful insights like this: the Dead Girl Show “the story will be over before it begins”; there can be no redemption for the Dead Girl, but it is available to the person who is solving her murder. Just as for the murderers, for the detectives in True Detective and Twin Peaks, the victim’s body is a neutral arena on which to work out male problems.

[Written by Lauren Lauzon]

Diane Keaton's Let's Just Say It Wasn't Pretty is out today.

My first (and hopefully not last) conversation with Diane Keaton was two years ago. She asked me if I was at her book signing for Then Again on behalf of my mother. When my mother overheard that from behind me, she said, "No, the mother is here for her daughter! To take her picture with you!" Keaton laughed. She couldn't believe she had younger followers (Yeah, weird). 

Two years later, Keaton's newest book, Let's Just Say It Wasn't Prettyacknowledges society's expectations and taboos about age (hers in particular). The excerpts I've been lucky enough to read address Keaton's vulnerability about being 68 in Hollywood, but quickly dispel those fears and doubts. She's still relevant, still getting work (just not cosmetic work), and is still staggeringly breathtaking. This book isn't an exaltation of Keaton's celebrity status, but an elegy to the dying belief that age always shadows beauty.

Read USA Today's interview with Keaton about the book.

The Atlantic takes on an issue near and dear to my heart, the horrid treatment of adjuncts at universities today. Even if you don't know anyone who is an adjunct professor, "The Adjunct Revolt: How Poor Professors Are Fighting Back" is very much worth a read. It's not just about adjuncts getting screwed over, but students, too, as universities have come to resemble businesses more than institutes of learning.

To add another layer of varnish to this shit show, due to the fact that adjuncts are overworked, underpaid, and undervalued, "We have lost an entire generation of scholarship..." according to Debra Leigh Scott, an adjunct activist and documentary filmmaker.

Apparently the Atlantic is trying to woo me. "Before Gonzo: Hunter S. Thompson's Early, Underrated Journalism Career" is fantastic.

It is a mistake to allow Thompson’s reputation to derive solely—or even mostly—from the madcap participatory reportage that characterized his Rolling Stone years, the cartoonish spleen of his later political commentary, or the sort of counterculture flamboyance that arguably eclipsed his writing in his later years. Thompson’s early journalism is both uniformly excellent and every bit as “traditional” as that of the other accomplished reporters joining him in Kentucky’s Journalism Hall of Fame.

Amen, Brian Kevin. Amen.

Also, what the hell are these shoes?

[Thanks to Lauren Lauzon for passing this story along.]