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A New List of the Endangered

September 20, 1987|by ELIZABETH MEHREN

NEW YORK — What do Judy Blume, Jimmy Carter, Ernest Hemingway and Pierre Abelard have in common? How about Sherwood Anderson, Maya Angelou, Honore de Balzac and some fellow named Anonymous? William Shakespeare, Maurice Sendak, Lewis Carroll and Doris Day?

Incredibly enough, all are considered dangerous, if not downright subversive, by individuals influential and determined enough to make them among the authors most often banned in this country. An alarming rise in censorship efforts in schools and libraries--People for the American Way's annual survey shows that censorship efforts for 1985-'86 were up 35% over the previous year; up 117% in four years--is what prompted the American Library Assn. to declare Sept. 19-26 "Banned Books Week '87--Celebrating the Freedom to Read."

About 10,000 libraries across the country are hosting programs and displays related to books that have been censored or challenged; the event is jointly sponsored by the ALA, the American Booksellers Assn., the American Society of Journalists and Authors, the American Assn. of Publishers and the National Assn. of College Stores. The theme, "Commemorating the Bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution," stresses the importance of the freedom to read and the dangers of censorship. School libraries in particular, the ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom reports, have been the targets of increased censorship efforts, with 39% of the censorship incidents aimed at library books and school curricula in 1985-'86 resulting in either the removal or restriction of educational material. Four years ago, the figure was just 23%.

ALL OPPOSED, SAY NO: Concerned that the implementation of Robert Bork's philosophy might lead to restrictions on free speech, the board of directors of the American Booksellers Assn. has passed a resolution opposing the nomination of the federal district judge to the U.S. Supreme Court. In reaching its decision, the board relied heavily on a 1971 law journal article in which Bork, writing that the First Amendment was really intended to deal only with political issues, stated "there is no basis for judicial intervention to protect another form of expression, be it scientific, literary or that variety of expression we call obscene or pornographic."

AT WORK, QUIETLY: In characteristically understated fashion, former New Yorker magazine editor William Shawn has been working as an editor for Farrar, Straus & Giroux since February. Not surprisingly, the first two books Shawn acquired have ties to The New Yorker. A portion of one of the books, Edith Iglauer's "Fishing With John," ran in the magazine. The other is a book of nonfiction with the tentative title of "Other Worlds" by New Yorker contributor Lillian Ross. Asked why he had made no announcement about Shawn's affiliation with FS&G, Roger W. Straus, the firm's president, told Publishers Weekly that "neither of us felt we needed the publicity and we didn't want pictures of us kissing at Broadway and 42nd Street."

AT RANDOM: How will the arrival of Joni Evans, late of Simon & Schuster/Linden Press, affect people and the product line at Random House? No one's quite sure yet--Evans only set up shop around Labor Day, after all--but privately, some have expressed concern that her "quality fiction," "popular nonfiction" line may compete in some ways with divisions already in operation at Random House. Though Evans' new venture is being described as an imprint, some see it as a separate publishing house within the larger framework. After all, she projects a list of 15-30 books annually and has talked about having as many as 10 editors on her staff.

BEAUTY AND THE BOOK: She couldn't exactly claim romance-writing as a talent in her beauty contests, but Lisa Kleypas, Miss Massachusetts of 1985 and a contestant for the title of Miss America that same year, secretly burned to publish a novel. At last, the 22-year-old graduate of Wellesley College has come out with "Where Passion Leads" (Onyx), described by its publisher as "a sizzling historical romance."

SPY WATCHER: Wolf Blitzer, Washington bureau chief for the Jerusalem Post, has signed with Harper & Row to do a book on the Jay Pollard spy scandal. The book is due out next year.

TIMING IS EVERYTHING: Just in time for the Pope's visit, author Lawrence Lader has come out with "Politics, Power and the Church" (Macmillan), accusing the Roman Catholic hierarchy of a "determined campaign" to destroy the "wall of separation" between church and state.

JIM AND TAMMY, CONT'D.: Yet another examination of the PTL television ministry scandal is forthcoming, this one from Charlotte Observer investigative reporter Charles Shepard and Atlantic Monthly Press. "Forgiven: The Rise and Fall of Jim and Tammy Bakker" (due out in fall, 1988) will analyze particulars of the Bakker case as well as the broader story of "mass-market religion."

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