aprilhenry (aprilhenry) wrote,

Would you change your story?

The SF Chronicle has an interview with Berkeley Breathed, the guy who does the Opus cartoons, about his new children's book. While he has written children's books before, this is the first he has since becoming a parent. In Mars Needs Moms, a mom who has been kidnapped and taken to Mars takes off her own helmet to save her little boy (and is turn saved by the Martians.)

The article says in part, "Breathed's publisher of 25 years, Little, Brown, wanted him to change the story to her just getting sick for the little boy, rather than being willing to die for him. But the author refused, saying that would be "watering down the point," and left for another publisher, Philomel. Breathed knew that this element could cause trouble, but says he, his publisher and his editor were all caught off guard by a couple of what he calls "big" reviews that saw the book as anti-feminist, including the one in Publisher's Weekly that took him to task for "the backward equation of women and domesticity."

"I pricked a delicate vein that courses through our culture right now like a cholera microbe, and that's paternal and especially motherly guilt about sacrifice, and what sacrifice is permissible, and what sacrifice is appropriate for them, and how much guilt should they have when it doesn't meet other people's expectations. ... And that hits right to the present mommy wars ... in our culture."

It is interesting that in the interview he says he was struck by his own willingness to sacrifice his life for his child's, but chose to write about moms. Maybe a teensy bit of stereotyping on his part. [Full disclosure: and if you really want to get picky, how can a vein course through the culture like a cholera microbe - somebody got his metaphors mixed up.] [Fuill disclosure number two: but someone who draws Opus and did Bloom County has earned a lot of slack.]

Read more here.

So how about you? Would you change your story?

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