Barry Hoffman is author of Born Bad, a novel set on
the U. of Pennsylvania campus; it concerns student suicides,
incited by a sinister and persuasive individual. Mr Hoffman
asserts that he was invited to read from the novel at Penn, the
reading having originally been scheduled to be held at the Penn
bookstore. But the bookstore's events coordinator told Mr Hoffman
that, due to the novel's controversial content, he would not be
able to appear there. To accommodate both Mr. Hoffman and those
who thought the reading inappropriate at the bookstore, a
proposal to reschedule at Kelly Writers House
was written, probably at the suggestion of the events coordinator.
Apparently, "the sensitive nature of the material covered in the book"
disturbed the manager of the bookstore. Mr Hoffman's agent is
certain that a fax tendering the formal invitation was sent to him.

However, the Provost's Office writes that no reading had actually
been scheduled at Penn. That is also the bookstore manager's
position.  Mr Hoffman's appearance was never actually scheduled,
the manager states, although the novelist may have confused
interest and preliminary preparations by  the store's events
coordinator with final acceptance (see the Harding Univ. incident
below). As for Kelly Writers House, Mr Hoffman's proposal was
considered but rejected. The Director there states that the
House's purpose is largely to provide a podium for people
associated with Penn, and that they have never rejected a
proposal because the subject matter was too "controversial."

Would Penn officials have little desire to publicize a novel
about tragic occurrences at their campus--occurrences which, even
if fictional, would give consternation to parents and alumni, and
bad publicity to the university itself? Of course. Would students
benefit from discussing a serious portrayal of young people's
identity problems and the depression that can result from them?
Of course.