“Yup, that should be censored,” a curmudgeonly voice says from the back of the room. While many work to stifle a laugh, others seem irritated by the man’s reaction to the mostly nude interpretive dance set to Baudelaire. No, it’s not a French experimental arts festival; it’s Tuesday night’s “Uncensored Voices” reading from banned books at the Clark County Library. The annual event is the library’s celebration of scandalous books offered in anticipation of the Vegas Valley Book Festival in collaboration with Black Mountain Institute and the ACLU.
Surprisingly, the Nevada Repertory Dance Theater’s contribution and the older man’s reaction turned out to be entirely appropriate in a night that seemed to alternate between the über-sexy and somewhat staid classics. The juxtaposition of ex-State Senator Joe Neal’s selection of To Kill a Mockingbird and novelist/artist Kris Saknussemm’s choice of Tropic of Cancer seemed particularly evocative. That’s what you get when people are left to select their own books (the only restriction: that the work was banned at some point).
Mostly, the night went as it usually does—some readers and selections were inspiring; others, less so. Still, it’s always a good event to attend. It’s free, and even when it’s strange it’s hardly ever dull.