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Banned Book Becomes Best-Seller in Western Kentucky

September 15, 1986 GMT

MAYFIELD, Ky. (AP) _ William Faulkner’s ″As I Lay Dying″ has become a best-seller since the Graves County school board banned it from the classroom, bookstore workers and librarians say.

The board banned the book by the Nobel laureate from Graves County High School on Sept. 4 after one parent complained about what she said were obscene and offensive passages.

Since then, all copies of ″As I Lay Dying″ have been checked out of the Graves County Public Library and out of libraries in nearby Calloway County and Paducah as well, workers at the three libraries said.


″The manager had to order some right now. We are out of stock,″ said Jeff Harrison, a clerk at a Paducah bookstore. He estimated that requests for the 1930 novel were running at about 20 a day.

″Everybody wants to read it and we’re sold out,″ said Lisa Moore, a clerk at another Paducah bookstore.

″A school called to say they were going to have a debate on the book,″ said Becky Canonico, circulation supervisor at the Paducah Public Library. ″But I told them it had been checked out.″

LaDone Hill, the parent who complained about the book, said she objected to its profanity and to a section she said appears to describe masturbation.

But a woman who has three grandchildren in the Graves County school system said last week that she has written the school board to ask that ″As I Lay Dying″ be put back into the curriculum.

Juanita Davis Elliott said Friday that she would not rule out suing the board if it does not heed her request.

″I hate to do that,″ she said. ″I hate to be a rabble rouser - but if that’s what it takes.″

Elliott said she received 17 calls supporting her after she denounced the book banning in a letter to the editor of the Mayfield Messenger. Two of the callers were teachers at the high school, she said.

The novel, which was used in a sophomore English class at the high school before the banning, describes the death of a rural Mississippi woman and her family’s attempts to accept the death and bury her in her hometown.

Written as a series of first-person narratives from the point of view of each of the major characters, ″As I Lay Dying″ is considered an early example of the literary style called stream-of-consciousness.