Two weeks ago I received an email informing me that an attempt to sell titles in my Semina series at the New York Art Book Fare had descended into farce because the books had been impounded by US customs. Book Works told me they’d flown from Europe to America to sell the novels, but ended up manning an empty table. The publications have now disappeared and may have been destroyed; from New York any unsold copies should have gone on to a distributor in Los Angeles, but there is still no sign of them on either the east or west coast. I was reminded of this a couple of days ago, when the following message from Bubble Entendre author Mark Waugh turned up in my inbox:
“Hi, could you expand on the rumour that Bubble Entendre has been impounded by US customs? In a week when the Tate flirted with showing Spiritual America, and then withdrew the work, I am curious about a conspiracy to regulate the flow of subversive literature into the homes of bourgeois America? Best wishes, Mark.”
Word on the grapevine is that the Semina books were impounded because a US customs official took a look at Bubble Entendre and decided it was a blue-print for a terrorist attack on the 2012 Olympic Games. The novel does contain a narrative about an entirely fictional kidnap incident during this event; but I’d like to stress that I only accepted the text for publication because it was, in my opinion, critical of terrorism.
For the benefit of customs officials and cultural cops around the world, I’d like to clarify that I am 100% opposed to all forms of terrorism – regardless of whether it is committed by the US and British governments (as is currently happening in the Middle East and Afghanistan); or by religious fundamentalists (Christian, Islamic, Buddhist, Hindu or any other variety). It should go without saying that terrorism is always vanguardist and can never be justified.
To reiterate, I do not write, edit or endorse books that in any way condone terrorism. I’d also like to know what happened to the missing Semina books – Index by Bridget Penney, One Break, A Thousand Blows by Maxi Kim, Bubble Entendre by Mark Waugh and Rape New York by Jana Leo. I trust that the several hundred missing copies of these works have not been mindlessly destroyed by US customs, and that they will be delivered to Book Work’s LA distributor in the very near future.
And while you’re at it don’t forget to check – www.stewarthomesociety.org – you know it makes (no) sense!
Comment by Zen Master K on 2009-10-24 11:44:06 +0000
I heard they banned my new book “Dirty” too… and I haven’t even written it yet!
Comment by The Ghost Of Wilhelm Reich on 2009-10-24 12:00:33 +0000
Look at how they treated me!
Comment by Krazy Kat on 2009-10-24 13:15:16 +0000
Bubble Entendre makes Running Away look like it was written by Paul McCartney on a particularly maudlin day – think Hey Jude or Yesterday!
Comment by J. Edgar Hoover on 2009-10-24 13:34:30 +0000
Free thinking is anti-American.
Comment by Beavers Against Nothing on 2009-10-24 14:24:01 +0000
.. typically of exactly the incognito terrorist to say that he is against all terrorism etc: One is reminded of the Stalinist trials that those who do not admit their guilt are “but the more guilty”… (in that they refuse to identify with their crimes).
The more One repeats innocence – the more suspicious it will eventually sound. Welcome to the backwards world…
Wasn’t it “artists” who made the WTC fall BTW?
Comment by Lynval Golding on 2009-10-24 17:12:13 +0000
The lanatics have taken over the asylum…..
Comment by Hillary Rodham Clinton’s Doppelgänger on 2009-10-24 18:08:57 +0000
Everything is true, nothing is permitted.
Comment by Old Rope on 2009-10-25 01:11:52 +0000
Holy Mackerel Batman! ( http://oldrope.wordpress.com/2009/10/24/the-holy-mackerel/ )
Hey, maybe customs dug on it so much they wanted them all for themselves…?
Comment by Michael Roth on 2009-10-25 16:50:00 +0000
Horrible news. Were the books impounded for content or due to incorrect paperwork? The bookstore I work at had some books in “customs purgatory” due to some missing paperwork, and to make matters worse, customs had misplaced their own reference number for the shipment. Things worked out in the end, tho. (also, I’m talking Canadian customs.)
I sure hope they turn up. You would think that there is an appeals process if it is refused due to content, or that the shipment would be returned to “sender”. Not really sure how the process works, tho.
Comment by Díre McCain on 2009-10-25 20:49:06 +0000
Sssssooooo, what have I been missing around here? Fell off the map for a bit…
Comment by Díre McCain on 2009-10-25 20:53:35 +0000
Oh, Canadian Customs are a nightmare. I have myriad horror stories to tell. May actually be worse than U.S. Customs, but maybe not, it’s a toss up. Just read the blog, by the way, hope those fuckers cough up the books at some point…
Comment by fi on 2009-10-25 21:10:15 +0000
Seems to be a lot of it around, censorship.
Comment by mistertrippy on 2009-10-25 22:47:52 +0000
I’m still in the dark as to latest developments. As far as I know the books are still missing…. I’ll see if Book Works know more during the week…..
Comment by The Almost Real Barry Manilow on 2009-10-25 23:59:35 +0000
I write the songs, I enforce the bans, I censor the world, I use force of arms, I am the USA!
Comment by The totally real Tom McCarthy on 2009-10-26 07:41:05 +0000
Dude, what are you complaining about? Being censored didn’t do ‘Ulysses’ or ‘Naked Lunch’ any harm. You can’t buy publicity like that! Stop whining on a blog no one reads and get a press release out to all the media channels…
Comment by Howling Wizard,Shrieking Toad on 2009-10-26 13:29:55 +0000
I hate America. I really do. Canada isn’t much better.
Phony fake places.
Comment by Howling Wizard,Shrieking Toad on 2009-10-26 13:30:15 +0000
Are they real countries even ?
Comment by Howling Wizard,Shrieking Toad on 2009-10-26 13:33:09 +0000
Hey yo dude, what language do you Brits speak anyway man ? Yo, you sound kinda funny man — hey yo yo you you suuuccckkkk dude! Hey, yo, speak Eng-erlish man ! Can’t you Brits speak plain Engerlish man? You sound kinda funny….hey yo, is Edinburgh near London town man ? They got lotsa caaassstttlles there dude ?
Comment by oldrope on 2009-10-27 10:19:58 +0000
They’re gone man and they aint never coming back. Like Saddam and Shergar
Comment by Christopher Nosnibor on 2009-10-27 21:53:34 +0000
Once again, censorship is being applied entiely arbitrarily… the trouble is, complaining about it is likely to result in censorship… what the fuck can you do, eh?
Comment by Old Rope on 2009-10-27 23:49:50 +0000
Celebrate it! Trip should become a staunch advocate for harsh brutal uncompromising censorship. It will keep The man guessing and besides, repression is the only true form of expr*ssion b*by!
Comment by Michael K on 2009-10-29 10:10:38 +0000
This story is almost as much of a groove as Marmitelover’s ‘Harry Potter’s gonna sue me’ hype this week (superb publicity, K). I suggest a follw-up march upon the American Embassy with Mark Waugh dressed as Stewart Home and Stewart Home dressed as me. I’ll be at home watching reruns of 9/11
Comment by lkjlkxjz on 2009-10-29 19:38:56 +0000
All of which goes to demonsrate that “America” is not equal to “Power” and that we can and must demonstrate quite the opposite. However, in a world dominated by illusion, it comes as no surprise that censorship should be popularly misperceived as a form of social repression. The contradictions which support such an inversion are manifest in every area of daily life; they constitute the apparent “reality” of our “time”. Despite the fact that it has been demonstrated time and again that consciousness is an effect of a closed system of exclusive focus, of censorship, “literate” consensus maintains that censorship and silence are the negation of consciousness. It is clear that Power has a vested interest in maintaining a monopoly on censorship. The “concept of freedom” is an unreachable, collapsing, absolute. All experience becomes equal when exchanged via Capital; with class “privilege” determining how much of this worthless “equality” each person is entitled to.
Comment by Old Rope on 2009-10-30 02:45:39 +0000
I cant believe they’re repeating 9/11 and I nearly missed it???? I always thought I would appreciate some of the references as I got older, now’s my chance to find out. I imagine, however, that it will be as wretched as ever. How come they never show the Good Life any more???
Comment by Mark Waugh on 2009-11-06 12:19:42 +0000
The Evening Standard Magazine called me and promised not to quote me. Everything I said was in quotation marks, but they did not use my name, which was a relief after the Tatler article. I spoke for twenty minutes or more about terrorism, genealogy and literature but they were only interested in why I was not at the Port Eliot Literary festival. They refused to print anything about this outrageous behavoiur by US customs. I have noticed that President Obama has appointed Vogue’s Anna Wintour as his arts advisor so perhaps we could get Bookworks to send her a polite letter for his attention?
Comment by mistertrippy on 2009-11-22 23:29:38 +0000
And the good news is I’ve just been told by Book Works that the books have finally got through to the distributor in LA after much bureacratic delay! So Mark Waugh is no longer banned in the USA!
Comment by The totally real Tom McCarthy on 2009-11-23 12:10:09 +0000
What an anticlimax. Heroic criminality turns out to be a postal delay. Half my post is ‘banned’ too, and so is the 55 bus. And why do I never see your avatar Stewart Home on Golden Lane these days, Trippy? Tessie ‘ban’ished you? Tom x
Comment by mistertrippy on 2009-11-23 22:07:08 +0000
Oh I’ll come over to visit and bring Tessie with me! But my understanding about Mark’s book is there was some customs problem but it was resolved… not just a postal delay. Problems with the 55? You should try using the number 8 (handily connects to the DLR at the end of its run)…. You don’t see an 8 for hours then several arrive at once! But if you’re on a bicycle they won’t get out of your way and you can never get away from them….