‘A Thousand Acres’ Author Jane Smiley on Kuna, Idaho Book Ban
I have to admit that a few days ago, when I first saw banned books list at schools in Kuna, Idaho, I’m a bit surprised that it’s been published since 1991. Even so, I’m still thrilled to be ranked number one—Maybe a revival is coming! Then I realized that my book, one thousand acres, comes in at the top because the list is in alphabetical order and not in shocking order. But it’s a good list to be included—Toni Morrison! Judy Blume! Thank you, banners!
Most authors know that banning books can boost sales, so here’s hope. As far as I know, the only other time one thousand acres was banned in Texas, shortly after publication. The reason given was because of the sex and violence in the book. Hmm. Perhaps the publisher should write on the title page “This novel is rated R. Under 17s, must be read to by parents.”
Most parents also know that when your kids are teenagers, as soon as you tell them not to do something, they immediately go out and do it. A neighbor who lives on the hill behind our house recalls a time he saw one of our sons sitting on the roof and smoking (well, at least our son didn’t pollute the air). indoor air—and it doesn’t smoke anymore). So with luck, many teenagers in Kuna will read this list, scratch their heads, and hitchhike to Boise to pick up a copy.
I was thinking about writing a modern narrative about King Lear It took me a while before I actually did it, but then I was driving through northern Iowa, from Minneapolis, and I looked around and said, “Oh, this is where I should put that Lear book!” There is a lot of farmland for a father and three daughters to jostle for.
When I write one thousand acresShakespeare (or Uncle Bill, as I call him) but to give a voice to King Lear’s two daughters, Goneril and Regan. So does the idea of women telling their own stories and having their own opinions matter in Kuna?
Oddly enough, my grandmother grew up in Idaho, and she loved it—especially the small town of Hailey, about 100 miles east of Kuna. My grandmother attended Albion State Teachers College, and taught elementary school in Shoshone, where she met my grandfather. She never had difficulty expressing herself, and never prevented any of her children and grandchildren from reading, writing, and having their own opinions. I think she would be embarrassed by the idea of banning books in a state she loves so much.
one thousand acres not a YA novel, but if you must read hamlet or King Lear in high school (and I did), you know that even if your own life is safe and comfortable, many people’s lives aren’t—“Becoming or not” seems to be a question for many people. with many teenagers. day. So the people at Kuna will also ban Uncle Bill?
What you learn from literature is not despair but the feeling and effects of despair, the understanding that the problems and moods you are facing are not your own—others do too. same problem (and animals too—why don’t they ban Black beauty?)
The two main characters of one thousand acres, Ginny and Rose, have different ways of reacting to the hurt they’ve suffered—one full of hatred and the other thoughtful and in a sense forgiving. What is banned?
Oh good. I guess the banners in Kuna want their teenagers to go back to reading the Bible. There is nothing like war, human sacrifice, murder, rape and genocide to excite a child. Not to mention animal sacrifices – no one in the Bible seems to be a vegetarian (Don’t forget Hebrews 9:22 – “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.”
Maybe the next book banned in Kuna will be by Peter Singer Animal Liberation: The Definitive Classic of the Animal Movement. Oh, that’s right—wildlife hunters and gun owners make up 61% of the population (that’s 1.1 million gun owners). Well, I hope they ban it, because then maybe those teenagers will read it.
Perhaps the book I would ban is the Bible, but why bother? All the books floating in the world go to the people who read them, do their best to understand them and decide for themselves. Everyone should have the freedom to do that.