A book combining three pieces of writing all focused on the theme of censorship. The primary piece is a letter from author Kurt Vonnegut to the chairman of the Drake school, regarding Vonnegut’s frustration with the chairman for burning and banning his novel, Slaughterhouse Five.
To provide a contrasting voice, I incorporated quotes from Captain Beatty in Ray Bradbury’s novel Fahrenheit 451, written 20 years prior to Vonnegut’s letter. At points in the novel, Beatty serves as the voice of censorship in the dystopian society, and mirrors the chairman’s words and actions as he denounces and burns books.
Since the destruction and harm of censorship are still issues that affect us today, the last piece I incorporated was a retelling of the events of the 2015 Charlie Hebdo shootings in Paris. Muslim extremist groups, threatened by content in the Charlie Hebdo publication, shot and killed 12 members of the newspaper in a severe form of censorship.
I brought these three stories together to show both sides of censorship—the authors and the oppressors—and illustrate the devastating results it can have. The book has to be partially destructed to be read, mirroring the action of destroying ideas and lives through these acts.
The cover is blank and sealed shut, and the reader must tear through it to begin reading.
Censoring within the book:
Parts of the text in the book are hidden, making it a challenge for the reader to overcome the censorship. At first, the reader has to tear through Captain Beatty’s words to reveal parts of Vonnegut’s letter and the Charlie Hebdo story.
Some parts of the Charlie Hebdo story are almost completely inaccessible, hidden under translucent paper, and parts of Vonnegut’s letter are hidden under the words of Captain Beatty. This is meant to echo the frustration that the Kurt Vonnegut and the newspaper felt with their voices being constantly threatened and subdued.
As the book progresses, the reader is prompted to tear not through Captain Beatty’s voice, but through the Charlie Hebdo story. This only reveals black paper, representing the dark, empty silence that is left as the result of censorship—in this case, censorship through violence and killing.
Three black spreads at the end of the book stand for the three days of terrorist attacks that Paris experienced this past January as a part of the Charlie Hebdo tragedy.