Saturday, October 4, 2014

Sexual Assault, Small Presses, and Shock

Shanna Compton on facebook: "I thought maybe your reading list was a reaction to this. But as Danielle said earlier, can't wait to publish a future edition of Natural History Rape Museum that seem, uh, irrelevant. Your reading list would be a good thing to share, when you are finished compiling it, I think."

When I was going to talk to my class about sexual assault on campus, ways to get in touch with people at the YWCA, and to be a support for those who have suffered rape, someone suggested books I could use in the classroom like "I know Why the Caged Bird Sings." Well, I know a number of books, like Julie  Carr's _100 Notes on Violence_, which I would prefer because of their art and being from a small press. I sent a call on facebook asking for such book titles from small presses.

Then a ton of bricks came down on me the next day.

I said on facebook that I would burn my Tao Lin books.

Someone posted: "Book burning .... Yeah. Really productive conversation."

I responded that the book burning was for me, that I have a Tao Lin story form his visit to KU, and it would be a part of a healing ritual. Really, people don't like the idea of book burning after Hitler, do they? Prospero's made headlines when they started burning their books because no one was buying them. That made me chuckle, because, really, there are some _bad_ books out there. 

This is no publicity stunt, though, but if it calls attention to how authors we hold to high esteem are capable of physical, verbal, and sexual assault while in denial that anything they did was wrong, what can we do for our own healing? What can we do to call attention to this possibility? What can we do to stand by those who are survivors?

It comes down to this: I can't keep a book I know was written out of actual events of abuse the writer abused someone to get material for.

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