- No time for anything but hangovers this week. No time to do much of anything. WHIIIINE.
- The last Balanchine ballerina retires.
- An interesting SLJ piece making the rounds about the kind of censorship that doesn't make headlines, but is far more pervasive.
- I miss Sara Nelson already, and I hope she does end up hanging around the book biz.
- I need to read more Elizabeth Wein, as these books sound fabulous. And, apparently, some of them are being reissued and need title assistance. Help out.
- A video that I haven't had time to watch yet making the rounds all over so it must be good — Book By Book: The Making of a Monkey Man.
- John Green on quantifying reader appeal. See also: Karen Healey expressing delight while reading Let It Snow.
- Maureen on healthier ways of eating, and the karma of vegetables.
- Ellen Kushner has the deets on efforts to save Realms of Fantasy.
- Perhaps the book with the best title of the year is The Forest of Hands and Teeth (and it's about zombies!), and it just garnered a starred review from PW. I absolutely cannot wait to read this book.
- Cynthia Leitich Smith is the mistress of cool and apparently of excellent book trailers too. The Eternal trailer is shiny, oh so shiny.
- This is a new way to dump your online weirdo stalker.
- The KidLitosphere has a spiffy new coordinated home page. Makes sense and it's pretty. How can you beat that?
5 thoughts on “Thursday Hangovers”
I read the SLJ piece wondering when we were going to get to the secret, the news–then I realised there wasn’t any, at least nothing that’s news to the LGBTQI writers of the world. Sigh. But I feel for Barry Lygsa.
Yeah, my thought too. People are ever trying to control what children and teens see/hear/do, especially where sexuality and sexual preference are concerned.
Uh. If I were a business owner I think I would reserve the right to choose my stock, even to select my battles; and I think I should be able to do it with the expectation that people would understand that I was acting under my rights as a provider. I’m getting a little tired of people tossing around the word “censorship”. Censorship means a specific thing, and that thing is not “company A will not provide product B because of C.” Unless of course “C” is a law and “B” is an idea. This is the case even when it is a library we are talking about, and even when it’s literature that might piss people off.
Maybe certain librarians are skipping over Boy Toy and maybe it’s even for all the reasons assumed: providers are uncomfortable with the same controversy writers seem to rely upon, front desk operators are tired of abuse, possibly middle America is populated by people uninterested in an illustration of the problems inherent in a May-December romance featuring a twelve year old boy.
None of this sounds unreasonable to me. Libraries have to pick and choose their content somehow. It isn’t like they are just taking the spare money home with them at the end of the month.
But this book can be found, if nowhere else, in the Library of Congress. The USA and at least one publisher own up to it as a work protected by the freedom of speech. I see that it is sold by at least one bookseller online. It is not a foregone conclusion that the creator of this book will be arrested for it, nor that people traveling through airports will have it removed from their checked luggage to be destroyed. People need not be concerned about mentioning it social situations, that scandal and stigma will follow them, that they will be marked for further attention. Even the national press can advertise for this book, review it, and discus it with favor.
I live in a part of the world where these things are not at all true. A part of the world were this book, in particular, will never be sold, and neither will many other books that you or I could never even locate the taboo about. Everything is read and okayed by the government before it is allowed. If necessary, it is changed by the government to make it more wholesome. What can’t be made acceptable is disallowed. Those who are disallowed are dissidents. Those who champion dissidents are dissidents. But even so, I can purchase this book online right now and have it mailed to me. Even here, the publishers on your side of the globe are providing this book to me, if I am willing to risk being discovered with it. I am certain you are able to buy this book where you live as well.
So this is not censorship. It’s selection. The author is not crying about censorship, he’s crying about how difficult it is to get free advertising through the community chest. How difficult people are making it for kids to read his books without parental complicity, and how businesses are being run without too much difference to his status as a agitator. Frankly, after reading the synopsis, I know that I will also probably never read this book. It will not end up on my bookshelves. Not because I think the book is evil or taboo, but because I am more interested in spending my money elsewhere. But because I have a choice, I know this has not been censored.
Definitely — lots of books disappear all the time for crazy-making reason. Content is just one of them. The fact is that a great many of these books probably wouldn’t have been published even ten years ago — but now they are, because the school/library market is only one piece of the puzzle. It doesn’t completely control what can sell in decent numbers anymore. And many books with impacted sales are probably still selling more than the average title for adults (not all, but I’d bet a good share).
So, of course, when you see an expansion in content and envelop-pushing, you’re going to see reactions to that. Some legitimate, some not. I have to think a lot of the growth in challenges in the ’90s was directly related to the rise of the evangelical movement. Now we’re hopefully seeing a bit of a swing back the other way, and there will be more permissiveness. I don’t think it’s likely at this point that the rubric for what’s acceptable at the YA level will ever be rolled back.
I do worry that an article like this will further the idea that authors _should_ self-censor if they want to get published, and makes people question the types of characters they include, everything. I’m not saying what the article says happens doesn’t happen, I’m just saying, OF COURSE, IT HAPPENS. Especially since this is a market aimed at kids. At least now, as opposed to twenty years ago, if the school/library people don’t buy your book, there is the possibility retail sales can help make up for that and the book will still be a success. Hardly any book ever finds all its possible happy readers, right?
DEFINITELY read Elizabeth Wein. Go, you can do it now. They’re short.
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