Judy Blume will be speaking at the University of Hartford on June 21st as a fundraiser for The Mark Twain House & Museum. I’ll be interviewing her onstage and taking tons of audience questions. In preparation, I will be reading her complete works and blogging about the experience. Get your tickets here.
This is not a book by Judy Blume, really. It's a collection of stories by censored writers, edited and introduced by Blume.
The stories themselves are good and you can see why censors would attack them-- arson, gay bath houses, use of the word "shitty"-- but the real treat here is Judy Blume's introduction. She discusses her own story of censorship and the one small moment when she succumbed to its pressures.
I saw that a few lines alluding to masturbation had been circled. My editor put down his pencil and faced me. "We want this book to reach as many readers as possible, don't we?"
Well, dammit. That's the thing. Pushed far enough, censorship not only removes materials from the public but also changes the writing. Writers want their books to be read. After too long being censored by libraries, and then by editors, writers might begin to censor themselves. To save a lot of heartache.
The reason we asked Judy Blume to come and speak at the Mark Twain House is because she is one of the most publicly attacked and censored writers of our lifetimes. Twain isn't around to defend Huck Finn, but Judy's here to defend Margaret. And she will. Again and again. This, above all, will be her legacy: not succumbing to these pressures. Standing up for those who have been forced to. And hopefully, inspiring other writers to put exactly what they mean into print.