Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five and Sarah Ockler’s Twenty Boy Summer got official thumbs-downs this week from a comstock-bullied school board in Republic, Missouri, in line with last year’s stupidity. The censors banned the books from both the curriculum and the school library.
I take this rather personally. A George Washington University professor assigned The Solomon Scandals as required reading for freshmen in a history class last year, given the lessons there on topics ranging from land use to relations between journalists, business people and government officials.
But what to do about the colorful city-room language and existence of sex as an integral part of Scandals’s plot?
I suspect Scandals would get the kibosh in the Republic schools (even though my book is tame by cable TV standards). Now, do you remember the Robert Frost poem saying, “Something there is that doesn’t like a wall”? I don’t like walking, talking walls, known as censors.
Scandals isn’t for ten-year-olds, and, in fact, the accompanying study guide is for college students, not the high school or elementary school variety. But I’m all in favor of acquainting mature enough high schoolers with the corruption in Washington, while urging them to fight it rather than just be cynical about it.
So here’s the deal. I’ll send a free paperback of Scandals to the first teenager in Republic who e-mails me, and for good measure I’ll throw in a Kindle or ePub file via e-mail. Since I’d rather spend my time writing than in court, I’ll restrict this offer to 18 and 19 year-olds. For added protection, I’ll request that a note of parental permission—with a separate email address and phone number included, for verification—accompany the request. I’m at email@example.com. Put MO EVIL BOOK in the subject line.
I remember when I was in school and the damn killjoys wouldn’t even let us read The Catcher in the Rye. Too bad Salinger and Vonnegut can’t rise up from their graves. Ms. Ockler herself is very much alive and indignant.
Needless to say, I’d love to see other writers make donations similar to mine. Who knows? Maybe we can even arrange a clandestine parachute drop to help the help mature teens in Republic get around the local Taliban. Imagine—dozens, hundreds, maybe even thousands of offers like this to show the folly of the school board’s actions.
Related: GalleyCat writeup.