Dear God. The crazy, far-right protect-children-from-knowledge crowd are burning the classic Chicano novel, Bless Me, Ultima in Norwood, Colorado. Burning it with the help and support of a superintendent of schools Bob Conder who admits to never even having read it. The copies couldn’t be donated, he explained, because he didn’t want to risk them falling into the hands of a child.
Heavens no. If it fell into the hands of high school students, they might read it and learn how full of shit he is. What is he teaching them by burning school books, destroying novels? (Picture is a famous shot from a Nazi student rally where objectionable books were burned).
This is not some new marginal or semi-pornographic work that a radical teacher is trying to slip into her or his classroom, not that I’d support burning those either. The novel was written in 1972 and is probably among two of the first and best known Chicano novels. Its author, Rudolfo Anaya is both an award-winning author and a literature professor (okay, I think maybe he’s retired now) at the University of New Mexico and the book has national and international standing as exceptionally good American literature.
I’ve read this novel many times and been in two classes where it’s been taught — I can’t really see what the problem with teaching it to highschool or even junior highschool students would be. The book uses magical realism to tell the story of a soldier returning home from the second World War and the healing he finds in the memories of the herbal magic practiced by his mother and adopted grandmother.
There’s some profanity in the book, as befits a character who’s a young former soldier. The grounds for the book being destroyed? That it’s obscene and promotes paganism. More about the burning here.
I’ve sat here for a while trying to come to grips with what can be done. My suggestion is to buy a copy of the book, read it and then if you think its worthy, donate it to your local library.