Superlatives III | Newberry

Superlatives III

Oh, I don’t know. Is this information I want to pass along? We don’t WANT illegal materials. We can’t sell ‘em, and they just make for a lot of interoffice memos.

Anyway, some time ago I mentioned that I might write about the Most Illegal Item ever donated to the Book Fair. We have had some. There was the gun (a starter pistol, but as it would have fired live ammo, it counted), and the set of brass knuckles (illegal in the state of Illinois, and arrived just three days after the gun. My, that WAS a week!). Not technically illegal, but very troubling was that big book which clearly stated “Property of the Newberry Library” (we eventually found it had been discarded in 1950, but there were plenty of interoffice memos in the meantime.)

But the Most Illegal Item was in fact a book, a book so thoroughly illegal that I’m not sure how much I can write about it here. I’m sure it was collectible, rare, AND valuable, but I don’t know for sure. I have continued to look it up through the years, but not one book dealer in the civilized world admits to having a copy. It was a book about [bleep], you see, and that’s always difficult.

The book was published in 19[bleep] by [bleep], and was called [bleep]. [Bleep] is credited as the author, but that could be a pen name. Anyway, it sounds like one. His book is a fascinating exploration of one schoo.l of sociology and philosophy. He wrote about {bleep] [bleep] and [bleep} [bleep] [bleep}, especially [bleep] [bleep] [bleep] [bleep]. This text was profusely illustrated in color and black and white, and this is especially interesting from a sociological standpoint. The photos of mere [bleep] came from Sweden and those of simulated [bleep] [bleep] from England, but the genuine illustrations showing [bleep] [bleep] [bleep] had to be obtained from Biafra during a time of famine, an interesting sidelight on the text’s insistence on the natural beauty of [bleep] [bleep] [bleep] [bleep].

I am, myself, a great believer in the freedom of the press, as well as freedom of the Book Fair, but I got rid of this as quickly as I could, and you will have to hunt for a copy elsewhere. My guidelines are simple: I’ll sell anything that won’t get us busted. But guns, brass knuckles (even labeled as novelty paperweights), and anything that requires more than three bleeps in a row to describe it ain’t going on our tables. 

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