Chris Anson of North Carolina State University forwarded a link on the WPA list to a pointed and hilarious letter from Pat Conroy to the editor of the Charleston (WV) Gazette in which he lambastes the Kanawha County school board’s suspension of his books, The Prince of Tides and Beach Music. The letter begins with:
I received an urgent e-mail from a high school student named Makenzie Hatfield of Charleston, West Virginia. She informed me of a group of parents who were attempting to suppress the teaching of two of my novels, “The Prince of Tides” and “Beach Music.” I heard rumors of this controversy as I was completing my latest filthy, vomit-inducing work. These controversies are so commonplace in my life that I no longer get involved. But my knowledge of mountain lore is strong enough to know the dangers of refusing to help a Hatfield of West Virginia. I also do not mess with McCoys.
And ends with:
The school board of Charleston, West Virginia, has sullied that gift and shamed themselves and their community. You’ve now entered the ranks of censors, book-banners, and teacher-haters, and the word will spread. Good teachers will avoid you as though you had cholera. But here is my favorite thing: Because you banned my books, every kid in that county will read them, every single one of them. Because book banners are invariably idiots, they don’t know how the world works — but writers and English teachers do.
Update, 9:18pm: Video from Zack Harold who is one of three finalists in West Virginia for MTV’s Choose or Lose ’08 election coverage. He submitted this as port of the interview process.