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Book News: Inmate Fights For His Right To Read Werewolf Erotica

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

  • A San Francisco appeals court has ruled that a werewolf erotica novel must be returned to Andres Martinez, an inmate of Pelican Bay State Prison, after prison guards took it away from him on the grounds that it was pornography. Although the court grants that novel in question, The Silver Crown, by Mathilde Madden, is "less than Shakespearean," it argues that the book nevertheless has literary merit and shouldn't be banned under prison obscenity laws. The court also notes that "the sex appears to be between consenting adults. No minors are involved. No bestiality is portrayed (unless werewolves count)." The book, which contains several lengthy depictions of fanged fornication, is described thusly: "Every full moon, Iris kills werewolves. It's what she's good at. What she's trained for. She's never imagined doing anything else ... until she falls in love with one. And being a professional werewolf hunter and dating a werewolf poses a serious conflict of interests." Mathilde Madden is a pseudonym for Mathilda Gregory, a journalist and Guardian contributor. She wrote in an email to NPR, "I am thrilled someone has gone to so much trouble to read something I wrote. I hope the book can live up to expectations."
  • Poet Kenn Nesbitt will be the next Children's Poet Laureate, a position created by the Poetry Foundation "to raise awareness that children have a natural receptivity to poetry and are its most appreciative audience." It comes with a $25,000 prize and a two-year tenure. Nesbitt, the author of Revenge of the Lunch Ladies, told outgoing laureate J. Patrick Lewis in an interview that "poetry is perhaps the most playful of all exercises for building children's growing brains and minds." One of his poems, called "All My Great Excuses," reads, "Some aliens abducted me. / I had a shark attack. / A pirate swiped my homework / and refused to give it back."
  • For The New Yorker, the bewhiskered former U.S. Poet Laureate Donald Hall writes the story of his life in beards: "As I decline more swiftly toward the grave I have made certain that everyone knows — my children know, Linda knows, my undertaker knows — that no posthumous razor may scrape my blue face."
  • A copy of Action Comics No. 1, the first comic book to feature Superman, was discovered in the insulation of a Minnesota home and sold for $175,000 in an online auction earlier this week. David Gonzalez discovered the comic among newspapers stuffed into the wall of a home he was restoring in Hoffman, Minn. Before it was sold, the comic was torn in a very expensive argument between Gonzales and his wife's aunt, according to The Associated Press, which notes that a pristine copy of the comic sold for $2.16 million in 2011.
  • For The Believer Magazine, Robert Atwan writes an alternate history of The Great Gatsby, narrated by Tom Buchanan: "I am a gravely misunderstood man and have been for a very long time, thanks to a perennial bestseller written by a Manhattan bond salesman turned procurer, one Nicholas Carraway, the author of a deceptive and biased memoir that thinly disguises itself as a pseudonymous novel."

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Annalisa Quinn
Annalisa Quinn is a contributing writer, reporter, and literary critic for NPR. She created NPR's Book News column and covers literature and culture for NPR.
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