Tuesday, July 10, 2007

There are better ways to make your point

  • Corey Hutchins reports on the censorship of Justin Blackburn's novel Gifted Disabilities in MetroBEAT.
Somehow a copy of this book found its way into my house a while back; it sat on the mantle forever before someone finally pitched it. The only reason it gets mentioned at all is the completely unjustified, Gestapo-esque harassment its author(s) suffered at the hands of the Secret Service. Otherwise, the book's a waste of time: proof positive that doing a bunch of drugs and then writing down whatever comes into your addled head is never a good idea.
After taking English classes at USC, Blackburn was approached by known author and Carolina professor William Price Fox, who encouraged him to write a novel. Halfway through the semester, Blackburn dropped out of school, but he took his professor’s advice. He wrote that novel. And because of it, he was now staring into the face of a very serious, very severe-looking Secret Service agent who was telling him he might be going to jail. “Political prison.” Inside his head the words sounded like fireworks in a storm drain. At that moment he was not thinking of alliteration.

“We kind of did a lot of drugs and we just kind of wrote whatever we wanted to write,” Blackburn said about the free-flowing novel, mostly written by him and Norsworthy, along with other minor contributors who breezed in and out of their apartment while hammering at the keyboard in a kind of kibbutz-like literary commune. And that was the problem: it was what they chose to write about that had drawn the five law enforcement officers out of the woodwork and into their faces, threatening and humiliating them and rifling through the drawers of their three-bedroom apartment. But what were they after? Blackburn said he doesn’t really know. The officers told him he had written something about the president that could have him sent to political prison in Kentucky for 20 years. Blackburn would find out later the agents had made the same threat about him to his parents by phone 30 minutes before they entered his apartment and forced both he and his roommate into two separate rooms for interrogation.

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