Censorship. In America, we have been bred to cringe at the sight, sound, or even thought of this word. And when one of the most influential books of all time was “pending approval” from the Glendale Unified School District’s (GUSD) for its reading list, none of us could help but cringe more than we ever had before. Thankfully, GUSD did the right thing by approving the text with a 4-0 vote (Board Member Mary Boger didn’t vote).
Glendale High School English teacher Holly Ciotti requested that Truman Capote’s classic work “In Cold Blood” be added to the list of district-approved books for her AP English Language classes.
And although she thought this would be easy, there were a few bumps in the road. Some school board members found the book too grotesque to be read by students.
Now, we can’t help but chuckle a bit here. “Frankenstein” is a work that is, apparently, on the school board’s list of books that can be taught in school.
But many of us remember feeling nauseated by some of Shelley’s descriptions of the monster in the novel. Is it okay for us to read about one man’s digging up of bodies from the cemetery, and his experience sewing different pieces of those bodies together?
What about the detailed descriptions of the monster’s methods of murdering all of Frankenstein’s friends and family? What about some of the most grotesque images in the novel—the incredibly vivid smirks of the monster, after committing some of the foul deeds that have been detailed in the text? Is it okay for us to feel our stomachs turning while reading this when we are not allowed to read the one novel that has been said to be “the birth of the non-fiction novel genre?”
There should have been no dispute regarding the silencing of Capote’s impeccable writing, and we are glad that GUSD students have the opportunity to analyze it.