It seems too good to be true, but North Carolina kicks off national Banned Books Week with a book-banning controversy of its own.

On Sept. 16, the Randolph County Board of Education, following a parent’s complaint, voted 5-2 to have copies of Ralph Ellison’s 1952 novel “Invisible Man” removed from school libraries.

The move drew a firestorm of protest after national news sources picked up the story. Now, the Asheboro Courier-Tribune, the prinicipal daily paper in Randolph County reports that the school board has called a special meeting for Wednesday (Sept. 25), when the ban vote will be reconsidered.

Located just south of Greensboro, Randolph County is a mostly rural and suburban county, best known as the home of the NASCAR driving Petty family. (Jerry Bledose, the journalist and novelist, author of “Bitter Blood,” was also born there.) Socially conservative, the county has long been a Republican Party stronghold.

School board members acted after receiving a 12-page complaint letter from the mother of an 11th grader at Randleman High School. The parent, identified as Kimiyatta Parson, objected to the inclusion of “Invisible Man” on a list of novels available for required summer reading by Randolph County high school students.

The parent objected to profane language and sexual content (“Invisible Man” includes a rape and an incident of incest), as well as the depiction of “loss of innocence.” “You must respect all religions and point of views when it comes to the parents and what they feel is age appropriate for their young children to read without their knowledge,” she wrote.

(For text of the letter, and a packet of school douments relating to the case, click here.)

Although several school committees unanimously advised retaining the novel, the school board voted to have it removed from school library shelves. Board chairman Tommy McDonald was quoted by the Courier-Tribune as describing the book as “hard read,” while board menber Gary Mason said “I don;t find any literary value.”

Others disagree. “Invisible Man” won the 1953 National Book Award, and Time magazine included it on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century. Progressive Pullse, the blog of the liberal-leaning N.C. Policy Watch, pointed out rather gleefully that portions of “Invisible Man” had been used on the College Board”s advanced-placeement English exam for 13 of the past 15 years. Only Dickens’ “Great Expectations” was cited more often, according to the College Board.

Reports of the ban drew stories in the Los Angeles Times, Christian Science Monitor, San Francisco Chronicle, PBS, National Public Radio, the Huffington Post and other news oulets. The Courier-Tribune claimed it had even been reported in Russia.

And the usual suspects soon chimed in. The ban was denounced by the American Library Association (which co-sponsores Banned Books Week), the PEN American Center, the National Council of Teachers of English and groups representing booksellers and publishers.

Evan Smith Rakoff, an editor of Poets & Writers magazine, identified as a former Randolph County resident, arranged with Vintage Books, the publisher of “Invisible Man,” and to have free copies of the novel distributed to Randolph County high school students on request from the Books-a-Million outlet at the Randolph Mall in Asheboro.

Meanwhile, the Courier-Tribune reports that reader posts at its website have been overwhelmingly opposed to the ban.