Benbrook Library / Books

Censorship is for Phonies: Read Banned Books

The following is a fictional interview I conducted with the fictional character Holden Caulfield in honor of Banned Books Week.


Cullen: Hi everybody, I’m very excited to introduce our guest today, Holden Caulfield. Welcome, Holden, and thank you for being here.

Holden: Hey, glad to’ve met you. I’m always saying “glad to’ve met you” to someone I’m not at all glad I met. If you want to stay alive, you have to say that stuff, though.

C: I totally understand. That said, ouch. Holden, I conjured you from my imagination today to talk to you about Banned Books Week, which is was September 23 – September 29.

H: I don’t know why you’d want to talk to me about something like that. You should get a teacher or someone that could talk all sexy about it, like my old teacher Mr. Antolini. He turned out to be a real lousy weirdo, though. You can’t trust anybody. You really can’t.

C: Right. Well, I wanted to talk to you specifically because your book, The Catcher in the Rye, is one of my personal favorites, and it has been repeatedly banned and challenged in the past. As the star, albeit a fictional one, of the book, I thought you’d be just the guy to talk to.

H: First off, I don’t like you calling me fictional. It makes me depressed as h*** because it sounds like you’re calling me phony, and if there’s one thing I hate, it’s a phony. And what the h*** do you mean the book’s been banned? Just what kind of g****** crummy thing is that?

C: What I mean is, since the book’s release, at various times, certain schools and libraries have had the book censored out outright banned in order to keep it out of the hands of readers, which happens with books more frequently than you might think. In your book’s case, it’s been banned on the grounds of being vulgar and blasphemous, which you’ve just demonstrated you’re inclined to be, and also for generally promoting immoral behavior. What are your thoughts?

H: That just kills me. Now I get why some parents might not want their young kids reading it; I’ve got a lousy vocabulary, and I know if I heard somebody talking like that around my kid sister, Phoebe, I’d sock him like I tried to sock that athletic b****** Stradlater. I really would. But for older kids and adults, I really hate that. Old Salinger is a real terrific writer, and he does a h*** of a job talking about life and everything. I don’t mean to sound corny, but it’s important stuff. It really is. Some of it can make you blue as h***, but that’s part of life. You can be a phony and say it’s not and pretend everything’s d*** swell all the time, but you’re going to miss out on a thousand good books and other things.

C: So it sounds like you’re a proponent of the freedom to read. Is that fair to say?

H: I wouldn’t put it all snobbish like that, but yeah. I’m quite illiterate, but I read a lot. And I don’t want anybody telling me I can’t read something because it’ll corrupt my mind or some crazy thing. The thing with people is they always think something they don’t like, nobody else should have. People are always ruining things for you.

C: Does it make you feel better to know that libraries like BPL celebrate Banned Books Week by displaying books like The Catcher in the Rye and other banned and challenged books in a show of support for free and open access to books and information?

H: Boy, it does. Everybody needs to read more. They really do. If you want to know the truth, books can really save people. It’s like everyone is living their life and running toward the edge of some crazy cliff, and books come out and catch them, like the catcher in the rye. I don’t exactly know what I mean by that, but I mean it.


Though Banned Books Week has ended, BPL is keeping the celebration going for another week with our banned books display. Come check it out.

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