- In Memoriam: TV writer/producer Stephen J. Cannell passed away last night in Pasadena, California, at the age of 69.
Although best known for creating such TV shows as The Rockford Files, The A-Team, and pretty much every third action/crime show that aired in the '80s (Riptide, Hunter, 21 Jump Street, Hardcastle and McCormick, etc.), in recent years Cannell has focused on writing and publishing thrillers.
- Bow Chicka What-What?! Appropriately enough, this being Banned Books Week, young adult author Laurie Halse Anderson has stumbled into a fresh censorship battle for her 10-year-old novel Speak. Fortunately, she has Twitter on her side!
Earlier this month, Anderson posted a series of messages about a Missouri man who wanted "Speak" removed from the high school curriculum in his school district. The man, Wesley Scroggins, an associate professor of management at Missouri State University, wrote an opinion article for The Springfield News-Leader in which he said that "Speak" — as well as Kurt Vonnegut’s "Slaughterhouse-Five" and Sarah Ockler’s "Twenty Boy Summer" — should be classified as "soft pornography." ("Speak," for the record, is the story of a high school girl who is raped by an acquaintance but then tells no one, is ostracized as a result of rumors about the episode, and becomes virtually mute. It was nominated for the 1999 National Book Award and was a Printz Honor title in 2000.)
Wow! Thank God the dude's an associate professor of management, huh? You'd have to wonder how many parents would be yanking their kids out of Missouri State University if the guy were teaching literature with opinions like that. So, then the news reached the author:
On her Twitter feed, Anderson listed the ways in which she believed Scroggins had misinterpreted her work. What upset her most, she said, was his characterization of a book about rape as "soft pornography."
Soon, Paul W. Hankins, a high school English teacher in Indiana, wrote a message of support to Anderson. He encouraged others to write on Twitter about "Speak," using the hashtag #speakloudly. Then Judy Blume, renowned chronicler of all things adolescent, got involved. "Outrageous!" she wrote in a Twitter message to Anderson. Blume — herself no stranger to efforts to censor her work — serves on the board of directors of the National Coalition Against Censorship and promised to bring the "Speak" issue to that organization's attention.
As if there weren't already enough reasons to love Judy Blume. And now we have an answer for the naysaying technophobes who wonder what Twitter's good for — plus, a great book to read this weekend!
This morning, Anderson's publisher fired back with a full-page ad in the New York Times. It's nice to see the good guys win once in a while, isn't it?
Book News Bits:
- Well, another Banned Books Week has come and gone, and all I got was a rock.
- Stephen King (who has certainly had his share of banned books) talks to USA Today about his experience writing comics for the first time with American Vampire, the Scott Snyder-created series that is being collected in hardcover next week. Turns out The King has a bit of a learning curve when it comes to comics.
- In other, less important, news, this will be my last post for a while, as I embark on a leave of absence for a couple of months. But I leave you in the highly capable hands of Miss Heidi Mager — who will hopefully have recovered from her neck injury by then. (Best wishes, Heidi!)
÷ ÷ ÷
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.
Books mentioned in this post