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Book News: Censoring Salinger, Lipsyte in Five Parts, and More

  • The Censor in the Why: An interesting commentary in the Philadelphia Inquirer looks at how, while the late J. D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye has consistently faced parental objections when assigned in schools, the nature of those complaints has changed somewhat in the past few decades, from complaints about profanity to anti-Christian sentiment.

    The piece starts off with a great call to arms that perhaps should be embossed on the cover of every book ever printed:

    "Books should offend you," a professor told my literature class 30 years ago, when I started college. "They should make you squirm and sweat. They should keep you up at night."

    The wrap-up is pretty stirring, too:

    [A]ll great literature offends someone. I can easily understand why Huck Finn makes African Americans uncomfortable (and I would hope it would make whites a bit nervous, too).

    But I can't understand why we need to shield our kids from these bad feelings. Why, oh why, must everybody feel good? Literature should make us squirm and sweat, because that's when we really start to learn about the world, which is a messy and disquieting place.

    So go ahead, get angry at these books. Yell, scream, and even curse if you want. Just don't deny kids the same experience.

    Of course, for plenty of kids, just having to read the assigned books is reason enough to scream and curse...

Book News Round-up:

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Chris Bolton co-created the all-ages webcomic Smash, which will soon be published by Candlewick Press, and created the comedy series Wage Slaves. His short story "The Red Room" was published in Portland Noir from Akashic Books.

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One Response to "Book News: Censoring Salinger, Lipsyte in Five Parts, and More"

    manwith7talents February 9th, 2010 at 1:56 pm

    I never cease to be amazed at the level of vitriol directed at Salinger's charming little story about a confused adolescent.

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