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[TSS] On Book Banning, Botany Bartering, and Beach Bumming

August 23, 2009

The Sunday Salon.com
I can not believe that this was one week. All other activities aside, this has been an incredibly strange reading period. I only managed to finish two relatively small books but I made significant progress through two others, those two landing on two ends of the scale regarding genre. Actually, my finished books did the same.



In finished books I found a first: a chick lit selection that I actually enjoyed, Hothouse flower and the Nine Plants of Desire. While the protagonist was a bit flighty, it was nothing I haven’t seen applied to male characters so I let it slide. If you’ve ever loved that special plant or loved that special person who loved a plant,it’s a fun read with neat facts and great adventure. I also found a new favorite in an old genre: the thought-driven over plot-driven novel, Glover’s Mistake. It’s a bit Woody Allen but not quite so weird that it’s a nuisance.



As for my unfinished books, or rather, works in progress as they won’t remain unfinished, I’ve started Inherent Vice and Devilish. Ah yes, we get to the beach bumming and book burning. A deep breath and then I’ll begin. I’ll try not to go too far off in tangent land although, perhaps that would be appropriate given the subject matter. Maybe perhaps just a quick one, then, on why Pynchon fans should love Inherent Vice.

Listen: if I wanted to reread Gravity’s Rainbow, I would reread Gravity’s Rainbow. I may start pulling my hair out if I keep reading (maybe I should stop reading) reviews  asking the ridiculous question: And maybe perhaps, T.P. could explain what possessed him to write a cheesy noire novel? As best I can remember, noire is a perfectly acceptable category of literature/film. Doyle, Hitchcock, Chandler, these are not pulp, folks. The other complaint is that Doc Sportello is a big old, Lebowski-like stoner, prone to hippie slang and psychedelic ramblings. For some reason this offends some Pynchon fans but the offense is lost on me.

Well, maybe I’ve figured it out. See, here’s the thing: these concepts are so completely and utterly Pynchon that perhaps, the irony is lost on his normal readers. They are too busy telling people that they are offended by pot (because no drug has ever so much as reared its fuzzy head in a Pynchon novel before?)  and cheesed out by the plot (also, something that has, regardless of contrary claims, appeared before) that they can’t see Inherent Vice for what it is: perfect. Pynchon has always created strange story lines with uncountable characters and writing that resembles a bad (or good depending on which half of the sentence you’re reading) trip. Before I write a complete review, in short, lay off. If you are too turned off and mislead by the bright pink cover, perhaps Pynchon wasn’t for you anyway…dude.

Phew. Hold on a minute. Let me get down from here. Oh, look, there, over there in that corner: another soap box. My other unfinished book, which I should be finishing shortly, is Devilish. I’ll try to keep this short but I will give you a video to watch. Maureen Johnson, my new best friend (although she is probably in the dark on her contribution to this relationship) has saved me. After reading Twilight and Sarah Dessen, I had pretty much decided that I would never let my (at the moment non existent) daughter read anything from the YA shelf because the girls are weak, boy-crazy and dependent. While Katniss Everdeen of Hunger Games blew that one out of the water, it was only one book. Maureen, it seems, actually repeats this theme of strong, smart, fun, real young women.

Why the soap box, then? Well, it seems that a group of “concerned” mothers, we’ll call them the Pink Jacket Army Committee (oh, no that’s not the pink triangle committee, think more along the lines of Delores Umbridge. This makes more sense if you have seen the video mentioned above as the women are both stylishly dressed in matching pink) is out to get Johnson.

imelda_potter

They would like her book The Bermudez Triangle, a book about girls coming out in high school, moved to the adult section because its subject matter is “inappropriate for young readers”. It’s thrown into the fire with Gossip Girl in a reclassification plea. Maureen argues that there is nothing remotely racy about the book (unlike the aforementioned Gossip Girl which, I will not ask to be banned but even I think is a bit “older” than its target audience) and that only leaves the subject matter, teen sexual orientation, as the “dirty” bits.

This is the best quote from the video or the interview (although, really, the whole thing is worth watching and reading):

KRRP: Challenges against The Bermudez Triangle have focused on ‘homosexual themes.’ Some commentators have identified this as an increasing trend. Would you like to comment on this?

MJ: This “we aren’t banners, we just think those are adult themes and therefore the books must be labeled/moved to the adult section/require permission to take out” nonsense . . . why, exactly? What is particularly adult about being gay? There are gay kids, gay teens. They have to go on awkward first dates, like all the wrong people, obsess over their crushes, have their hearts broken, fall in love with friends, get permission from their parents to go out, try to borrow the car . . . There are loads of YA books about those things featuring heterosexual characters, and no one bats an eye. Why is it so adult if gay kids are doing it?

It’s not. It’s the same thing. Gay kids need to see their lives reflected in stories. And straight kids want to read these stories as well! Gay characters can’t be relegated to some dark corner of the shelf that you need a map to find and an ID to check out. To do so is basically saying to the gay kids, “There’s something dirty about you.” Anyone who would say that is the true filthmonger. Period.

So, there you have it. This is quite a fired up Sunday Salon post but I feel so much better now. I only have one remaining question: Maureen Johnson, will you be my friend?

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. August 23, 2009 9:38 am

    Whew! You’ve been reading all over the map. What will you read next week?!

    • iwriteinbooks permalink*
      August 23, 2009 10:38 am

      I’m not sure, yet. I think I may settle down and read a little bit of historical fiction. We’ll see. I’ve been jumping all over this week. I am TIRED! 🙂

  2. August 23, 2009 10:59 am

    I LOVE The Bermudez Triangle, and there is absolutely nothing inappropriate for kids in it. I mean, the girls kiss. That’s it. It’s less racy than a lot of teen romance lit. Sheesh.

    • iwriteinbooks permalink*
      August 23, 2009 11:34 am

      Yeah, I don’t get it. I think Maureen’s quote is exactly where I stand on it. for me, things books the Bermudez Triangle are what I DO want my kids to be reading. Oy.

  3. August 23, 2009 4:04 pm

    I agree with you on Pynchon – he should be able to expand his repertoire if he wants!

  4. August 24, 2009 12:41 am

    Thanks so much for stopping by my blog today! I’ve enjoyed this post and am off to discover more here.

  5. August 24, 2009 12:13 pm

    These look like a good reads. I’ll have to add them to my ever-growing reading list! I’m definitely interested in finding out more about The Bermudez Triangle now, as well.

    And I have a suggestion! You might really like a book called ‘Knickles and Dimes’. It has hilarious characters and a really great story. I’d recommend it!

    Thanks for the suggestions : )

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