aprilhenry (aprilhenry) wrote,

Censorship is alive and well - even self-censorship

The Children's/Young Adult Book Committee of PEN American Center has begun a discussion of censorship in its many forms (including self-censorship) on the PEN Web site. Very topical, in light of "scrotumgate." They've introduced the topic with essays by:

- Robert Lipsyte says about his YA football novel, Raiders Night, that he "would run into trouble with librarians and English teachers because of the sex, drugs, and realistic language. There was a male on male rape during a hazing incident. It was a hard R for the genre. But I had some points to make.
As it turned out, the book got starred reviews and the invitations rolled in from librarians and English teachers. And rolled out. Sheepish e-mails disinvited me because athletic directors and principals read the book and decided that this Friday Night Darks approach was counter-productive. One athletic director, in a leaked e-mail, wondered if I could be asked to talk about the violence in contemporary music." Read more here.

-Mary Ann Hoberman wanted to create her playful and sometimes violent father, but found herself backing away. She says, " And yet when I began to write my novel, despite my early plan, I was unable to give my first-person protagonist, nine-year-old Allie, that kind of father. Even though nine-year-old Mary Ann, and presumably many other little girls, had and have fathers like that, I saw no way to admit that kind of man as the protagonist’s father in a story for nine-year olds. I asked myself why? After all it had “really happened.” Read more here.

- Elizabeth Levy talks about how she is asked to not speak about certain books she has written. "So many of my books, Frankenstein Moved in on the 4th Floor, followed by Dracula is a Pain in the Neck, The Night of the Living Gerbil, and The Vampire State Building, etc, are versions of my brothers game of strangle. Siblings try to scare each other "close to death" and pull back. There is no supernatural in any of these books. And yet these are the ones that most often get me "disinvited” after I have been invited to a school. Someone, usually from the PTO, asks “would I mind not mentioning those ones.” Usually the "disinvite” comes from the title, not even the content." Read more here.

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Tags: censorship, pen
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