January 28th, 2010

Banning the dictionary

Many, many books have been banned. But this, I hope, is a first. The Guardian reports that “ictionaries have been removed from classrooms in southern California schools after a parent complained about a child reading the definition for "oral sex". ... Merriam Webster's 10th edition, which has been used for the past few years in fourth and fifth grade classrooms (for children aged nine to 10) in Menifee Union school district, has been pulled from shelves over fears that the "sexually graphic" entry is "just not age appropriate.””

““The dictionary's online definition of the term is "oral stimulation of the genitals.”” Can you image?!? Those dictionaries probably have the word penis and vagina in them, too. It’s a scandal.

But don’t worry. The school district is on the case. The plan? To read the dictionary and look for other objectionable words and phrases. "It's hard to sit and read the dictionary, but we'll be looking to find other things of a graphic nature," district spokeswoman Betti Cadmus told the local paper.

The only upside that I can see is that children will now be drawn to dictionaries like moths to flames. Read more about this shocking story here.

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Creating a future I didn't believe

I'm bagging a post-apopolyptic book I've been seeing pushed everywhere by the publisher. The downside of that genre is you have to do a credible job of creating a new world. For good examples, see The Hunger Games or Life As We Knew It. I believed in both of the worlds those authors created.

In this author's 2045, "The tented rooms used by prostitutes are cherry red. There's one on every corner. Inside, male and female prostitutes provide a variety of sexual services for so many credits each...Customers wait outside for their turns. They're unconcerned who sees them queued up between the velvet ropes. It's custom in the Confederation. Men wave as their neighbors pass. Women talk to one another about recipes and cleaning supplies, then disappear through the front door and come back out again, pink-faced and smiling."

My two problems:
- Narrator lives in this world. Why would she think it strange that the customers are unconcerned with being seen.
- Women? Queueing up for a brothel? I find that hard to believe. I don't think women are hard-wired to want anonymous sex with a stranger.

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JD Salinger and me

I just heard that JD Salinger has died.

When I first got my agent, she worked at Harold Ober, which represented the estates of Faulkner, Fitzgerald, and Agatha Christie. And they repped JD Salinger. I once lied and said I had lost a copy of their client list just so I could see my name on the same page as JD Salinger's (my list had been given me when I was deciding to go with them). Unfortunately, the Ss and the Hs were on different pages.

One post I wrote about Salinger and an unwanted visit another about Salinger and a talkative handyman.

Last October, I met Joyce Maynard, who wrote a tell-all about her long ago affair with Salinger. I have to admit I liked her. She was clearly a big reader.

I guess now he'll find the peace he craved.

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