The story of a ballsy little American hero, Obscene recounts the life of Barney Rosset who's fought a lifelong battle against censors, philistines, bullies, and shrieking 'won't somebody think of the children!' nanny-state-ninnies, and made America slightly less stupid because of it (I, personally, can't think of a better legacy). A naturally-rebellious guy, Rosset, after WWII found himself, almost by accident, the owner of tiny publishing house Grove Press and almost immediately made a career out of provoking court battles with the self-proclaimed 'forces of decency' by seeking out and publishing controversial works of literature. He started off with Lady Chatterley's Lover, moved on to Tropic of Cancer, Waiting for Godot, Naked Lunch, and many others 9and founding the groundbreaking journal Evergreen Review), fighting, and winning, the battle for free speech, free expression, and all of the rest of that Commie stuff, running through all his resources (and more than a few wives) in the process. In addition to the official, court-sanctioned harassment, he got death threats, smear campaigns, and, oh yeah, somebody bombed his office. Way to go America! Rosset, still impishly subversive well into old age, recounts his various struggles against The Man with obviously pride, even as he spells out the most difficult and unjust ways in which the foes of art tried, and ultimately succeeded, in bringing Grove down. Filled with saucy excerpts, indignant interviews, racy archival footage, and an inherent love of the written word, Obscene is a thrilling, fascinating, and infuriating watch, and you'll have a new hero at the end. Unless, of course, you're an illiterate prig.
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