You Can’t Read That! is a periodic post featuring banned book reviews and news roundups.
Amusing Shutterstock find: “Man hand showing CENSORSHIP word phone with blur business man wearing plaid shirt”
YCRT! News Roundup
This is an interesting exchange:
Elementary school librarian to author:
It’s not that I don’t think heroin addiction is extremely important. Our community has faced its share of heartbreaking stories in regards to drug abuse but fourth and fifth graders are still so innocent to the sad drug world. Even two years from now when they’re in sixth grade this book will be a wonderful and important read but as a mother of a fourth grader, I would never give him a book about heroin because he doesn’t even know what that is. I just don’t think that at 10 years old he needs to worry about that on top of all of the other things he already worries about… For now, I just need the 10 and 11-year-olds biggest worry to be about friendships, summer camps, and maybe their first pimple or two.
Author to elementary school librarian:
We don’t serve only our own children. We don’t serve the children of 1950. We don’t serve the children of some imaginary land where they are protected from the headlines. We serve real children in the real world. A world where nine-year-olds are learning how to administer Naloxone in the hopes that they’ll be able to save a family member from dying of an overdose. And whether you teach in a poor inner city school or a wealthy suburb, that world includes families that are shattered by opioid addiction right now. Not talking about it doesn’t make it go away. It just makes those kids feel more alone.
Amazon doesn’t have a problem with selling erotic books. But they seem to have a problem with this one.
From the automotive censorship front: family-friendly feature or bluenose bug?
As goes the Texas Board of Education, so goes North Carolina:
For this English teacher, this nomination spells censorship and more governmental control over what is read by students in North Carolina. His track record screams that free thought, interaction with unknown ideas, and expressions of differing viewpoints should not be allowed in high schools.
Some parents want children’s and young adult books rated like movies. But rating, as some book stores are beginning to do, can lead to blanket book- and author-banning attempts, as this high school teacher has discovered.
The pleasures of forbidden reading. I suspect it’s a universal experience. I hope so, anyway.
Literary voyeurs, on your mark! Now you can see what Toronto library patrons are searching for in real time.
Conservatives love to turn the tables on progressives by citing instances of political correctness run amok. Sadly, colleges and universities are only too happy to oblige.
This is the poster for Banned Books Week 2016, September 25 to October 1. Last year’s BBW poster was deemed problematic: people said the original design was anti-Muslim, and the American Library Association changed it. I suspect the same people who are so busy enforcing speech codes and “safe spaces” on college campuses were behind the opposition to last year’s BBW poster. What will they find offensive this year? My guess: the superhero silhouettes, which clearly contribute to an oppressively judgmental atmosphere of body-shaming.
YCRT! Banned Book Review
During last week’s Democratic National Convention, I perked up when Chelsea Clinton described reading Madeleine L’Engle’s “A Wrinkle in Time” with her mother. Of course I’m delighted whenever kids and parents read banned books together, and “A Wrinkle in Time” is just such a book, firmly placed on the American Library Association’s 2000-2009 top 100 list of banned and challenged books (as it was on the 1990-1999 list before that).
I did not read L’Engle’s book as a child. I read it in my 60s, motivated primarily by curiosity about why conservative and religious parents object to it as strongly as they do. And I wrote a short review, which I’ll repost here:
A Wrinkle in Time
As an adult, I often read books aimed at teenagers, and I looked forward to reading this one because it’s cataloged as science fiction and I’m a sci-fi geek. But “A Wrinkle in Time,” despite a head-nod to interstellar travel through wormholes, a well-worn sci-fi convention, is really magic, fantasy, and witchcraft, wrapped around a Christian, “Chronicles of Narnia”-like message.
So why is it that L’Engle’s book is so often challenged? Because, I suppose, a certain kind of Christian hates being reminded that Christ preached love over vengeance and hate. And then there’s the passage where L’Engle gives Ghandi equal billing with Jesus. Hell, I could have told her that was a non-starter!
Here is some additional commentary on “A Wrinkle in Time” and the reasons people try to ban it. First, from a 2010 article in The New Yorker, discussing plans to make a movie of the book:
Madeleine L’Engle did not shy away from complicated topics like quantum physics or, more controversially, religion. L’Engle, who for years was the librarian and writer in residence at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, on the Upper West Side, dotted her text with Biblical quotations, and foregrounded her belief in ecumenism—a particularly controversial passage in “A Wrinkle in Time” placed Jesus alongside Gandhi, the Buddha, and Einstein in the fight against evil. To be reductive, L’Engle’s life philosophy is the kind of happy religious pluralism in which Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, and even scientists can live together in peace. Needless to say, conservative Christians were not thrilled about the easy conflation.
Second, from the Banned Book Awareness blog (unfortunately no longer on line, and I cannot find a current link to the quoted paragraph):
L’Engle was in fact a Christian, the official writer-in-residence at New York City’s Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Christian opponents of her book, however, point to the fact that she was an Episcopalian, and thus a liberal, and thus a commie. Other objections? Placing Ghandi on a plane with Jesus. … New age religion and magic. Strong female characters.
Strong female characters? If strength is what Hillary Clinton voters are looking for, they should be glad to know Hillary read “A Wrinkle in Time” with her daughter!
This is not the chummy interlude it appears to be, but a quiet struggle for cushion hegemony. Left Shark prevailed.*
Up early this morning to prepare a rack of pork spareribs and hit the gym. By preparing ribs, I mean pulling the membrane off the back, coating them with dry rub, and wrapping them in foil. Later today I’ll bake them in the oven, then finish them off on a gas grill. Of the two ways I cook pork ribs, this is the easy one. The other way is to put them on the smoker with charcoal and wood chips, but that’s more work than I care to do today.
They told me not to exercise for a couple of weeks after skin cancer surgery. One week off was all I could stand. This morning, on my way home from the gym, I stopped at Safeway for corn on the cob to go with the ribs. While there I stopped at the DVD kiosk and rented My Big Fat Greek Wedding II, thus ensuring myself a couple of uninterrupted reading hours after dinner. Donna and Polly will have the family room and their movie; I’ll be in the auxiliary reading chair in the master bedroom. The important thing is we’ll all be happy.
I generally read two or three books at a time, but right now I’m concentrating on Jim Webb’s excellent Vietnam war novel Fields of Fire, which I’m reading on my Nook. I recently had a problem downloading that book and a couple of others from Barnes & Noble. There was a lot of back & forth over the phone and by email, and somewhere in there they promised to send me a newer Nook as a replacement for the old one. They didn’t follow through, so early last week I called again. Three to five business days and I’ll have it, they say. That’s how long they said it would take to correct the downloading problem, but after eight business days they’d done nothing and I had to call and start all over again. I’ll believe I’m getting a replacement Nook when it’s in my hands. Will I be surprised if they stiff me again? No.
Tell you what, I never experience this level of aggravation with Amazon. There’s a problem, they fix it right away. There’s gift card money in the B&N account that can only be spent on Nook books, but when that’s gone we’re done. All my future ebook purchases will be through Amazon. Good thing Donna has a Kindle she’s not using, eh?
As for TV, the political conventions are over and we’re back to regular programming. Well, not quite: we no longer watch Rachel Maddow on MSNBC, which was our nightly ritual before. Now we go straight to Netflix or Amazon streaming. Streaming TV’s not all it’s cracked up to be, though. Netflix and Amazon have both taken shows away before we’re done watching them. I was really into a Belgian series called Salamander, but it disappeared when I was only halfway through. Last night we wanted to put on one of the old black & white Julia Child cooking shows, but what was once included with our Amazon membership is now pay per view. I thought about watching Breaking Bad again, but it’s the same story there. I could live without TV. I love to read. Donna likes to read but loves to watch, so giving it up wouldn’t work for us.
*Judging by feedback, not all my readers get pop culture references and memes, hence the link. Don’t say I never did anything for you, baby!
From the political to the personal. That’s how I roll here at Paul’s Thing.
Yes, the beard is gone. Like an infant discovering its tongue, I’d become obsessively aware of the hair on my face, touching it, scratching at it, thinking about it day and night. The symptoms were like a series of signposts, and they read: “A shave / That’s real / No cuts to heal / A soothing / Velvet after-feel / Burma-Shave.”
By the way, this must be the sixth or seventh beard I’ve shaved off. Donna hasn’t noticed once, and her record is unbroken.
So what’s with the bandage? No, it’s not a shaving cut. It’s the result of having another basal cell carcinoma removed, this one near my right eye. I went to a doctor who specializes in Mohs surgery. It took a while, what with the doctor removing a layer, leaving to examine it under a microscope, coming back for another slice, etc, but Donna says once it’s healed I’ll be as pretty as Muhammad Ali. She should know: she had a skin cancer removed from her nose with Mohs surgery last year. There’s no scar at all, and she’s even prettier than Ali in his prime.
When I left the doctor’s office yesterday morning I was wearing a thick gauze pad and plenty of tape. The dressing was supposed to stay in place two days, but part of the tape covered the inner corner of my eye and drove me crazy. Not only that, my glasses slid down to the end of my nose and I had to tilt my head way back to read. One day was all I could stand. It’s not bleeding, so thin bandages . . . which I was supposed to start wearing tomorrow anyway . . . will have to do. The things we do for vanity!
Our daughter Polly’s been living with us for more than a year. I’m not as upset by this as I was six months ago, because at least she has a job now and isn’t underfoot all the time. Over the past few months she’s interviewed with a few Phoenix-based human resources outsourcing companies, but none of the jobs have panned out. We try to be optimistic, but suspect there’s a red X on her record from a previous job in that career field . . . either that or it’s her lack of a college degree in a field where virtually everyone else has one.
How much longer is this going to go on? We don’t know, obviously. Polly’s dating again, and maybe that’s her escape plan. The job she has, working as a cashier at Ace Hardware, doesn’t quite pay enough for her to move into her own place, or at least that’s what Donna maintains. I wonder, though . . . Tucson is full of people working low-paying jobs and somehow managing to make ends meet.
I’m sharing some pretty personal stuff with you here. I hope you realize I’m not complaining . . . I’m mostly thinking out loud, wondering when our daughter will finally become a person in the world.
I’m through with the Republicans and their hatefest of a convention. I snarked on Melania Trump’s plagiarized speech, and so did everyone else. Sadly, everyone else is still going on about the goddamned speech, ignoring the truly frightening excesses on display in Cleveland, and now I’m embarrassed to have been part of the chorus. Republicans are going to do their thing no matter how much we try to shame them. It’ll be the Democrats’ turn next week, and maybe Hillary can calm things down and get a positive bump while she’s at it. Hey, it could happen! Not that it’s likely to. . . .
I was taught to indicate a trailing-off thought by ending a sentence with a period followed by an ellipsis. . . . Yes, that’s how it’s done, with a full space after the period and thin spaces between the dots of the ellipsis. When I do it, though, it looks fussy and pedantic. Why can’t we just trail off without the period? Like this . . .
(. . . trailing off now . . .)