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Allan Gurganus' political action -- The author of ''Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All...'' speaks out against Sen. Jesse Helms

Allan Gurganus (Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All...) is fed up. The novelist hails from Sen. Jesse Helms' home state of North Carolina, and he and other Southern writers have set out to defeat the purger of sexually explicit art in next week's election. The scribes favor Helms' Democratic opponent, former Charlotte mayor Harvey Gantt. In addition to participating in nationwide fund-raising readings with other writers like Reynolds Price and Grace Paley, Gurganus took more personal action. ''One reason I moved back to North Carolina,'' he says, ''is so I could vote one vote against Jesse Helms.'' He also launched a six-page letter to the object of his ire, with the following review of Helms' favorite book.

This literary work commences with a naked and legally unwed couple frolicking in a singles garden; they engage in shameless erotic congress — you will forgive the expression...We read how a young prince and a comely male court-musician are scolded for seeing far too much of each other. We slog through lovemaking tips to young wives and the longest sustained erotic love poem in Western literature...Your favored reading matter is often bound in a plain black wrapper. I speak, naturally, of the H-ly B-ble...

In response, the senator sent Gurganus a form letter, which closed by saying, ''It would be dishonest if I did not say to you, respectfully, that I cannot and will not retreat from what I have said and done.''

Originally posted Nov 02, 1990 Published in issue #38 Nov 02, 1990 Order article reprints
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