[Click above to embiggen: Can you tell which reviewers actually read our book and which ones just post drive-by attacks?]
I find this phenomenon interesting, that Amazon allows negative reviews from unverified purchasers so soon after a book is released. To me, it’s pretty obvious that someone has not read our book, SHUT UP! The Bizarre War that One Public Library Waged Against the First Amendment, when that person just makes generic attacks (or says only, BLECCH).
Megan Fox and I wrote this book to not only educate people about what it takes to go up against local government (and win), but also to show people what they could do to defend themselves when elected officials use the police as a weapon against citizens and national lobbying groups like the ALA swoop in with “crisis management” advice on how to chill free speech and censor opponents. We also have plenty of lessons in there on how to beat the worst law firm in all of Illinois, Klein Thorpe Jenkins (as Megan and I bested those legal eagles over and over and over again…for 666 pages!).
We want people to enjoy the book, so it’s not a typical political book. It’s conversational and alternates between chapters by me and chapters by Megan. Along the way, in addition to learning about horrible things that the Village of Orland Park, Police Chief Tim McCarthy, and the Orland Park Public Library Board of Trustees (the OPPL-BoT) did to us, you’ll also read amusing stories about our lives, travels, and even our favorite recipes. SHUT UP! has got it all!
To me it’s obvious when someone has actually read the book. Even if you hate Megan Fox and me with a passion (raise your hand if you do, it’s okay…we are both used to this by now), if you read the book you would have to be able to come up with more to say about it than “BLECCH” or ramble about some Australian wine (in a failed metaphor).
I’m waiting for someone who truly hates us to read the book and rip apart our jokes, trash our analogies, go insane over our illustrations, etc. Then I know the hater actually had the book in his hands. Otherwise, it just feels like the American Library Association attacking us some more for daring to write a book that they would prefer to see suppressed, censored, and banned from public libraries.
Megan and I specifically invested in printing options that allow public libraries to purchase our book for their collections without any excuse not to carry it. So, if your local public library does not have SHUT UP! in its collection, ask them to get it for you. If they refuse, then according to what the ALA claims every year during “Banned Books Week,” the library is censoring and banning our book.
It’s such an unusual (but delightful) experience having three years’ of my life and hard work sitting on my desk in front of me as I type this. Even though I wrote the book with Megan, I still like picking it up and turning to a random page and laughing about some of our adventures with the Orland Park Public Library. The things they did to us were horrible, but Megan and I defeated those lunatics by never losing our sense of humor and by documenting every rotten thing they did thoroughly. Most of it we caught on video. All of it is sourced in the book.
I hope people who actually read it let everyone know what they think, for real, in a review. But it would be nice if librarians had the integrity and intellectual honesty to post unbiased reviews…not just driving by and hurling feces at us like circus animals. People expect more from librarians, who claim to be against censorship and suppressing materials that are controversial or with which they personally disagree with.
I appreciate that it might be upsetting to ALA members to read a book that documents years’ of wrongdoing, lawbreaking, and hypocritical censorship in a public library…but if these librarians are mad at anyone, they should be mad at the people in Orland Park who did all these awful things and caused all the problems that Megan and I then had to write about.
If you want to be upset with someone, don’t be upset with the whistleblowers (or leave bogus negative reviews for the messengers); you should be upset with your fellow ALA members who made the rest of you look so terrible.
Have you read SHUT UP! yet? If so, what did you think?
© 2016, Kevin DuJan. All rights reserved.
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