Banned book week occurs the last week in September as a celebration of our right to read whatever we damn well please. It took viewing only a very small sampling of items on the banned booked lists to see that my novel Spin the Plate is a prime candidate for inclusion. Spin the Plate is a fictional account of a woman who as a child had been systematically sexually abused by her father and has immerged from this traumatic childhood not battered and broken, but powerful and enraged. The book contains both profanity and sexually explicit content.
So, is “bad language” really needed in literary fiction? Absolutely. Using the s, f, and other four-five letter words
is how many real people really talk. Profanity is used to convey threats, anger, power structure, comradery, familiarity, humor, and sometimes social class. A tense situation can be escalated to the red zone in an instant with a single, well placed swear word. Crude language can be used as a powerful literary tool: in Spin the Plate it is used to show the main character letting down her guard and letting go of her anger and hate, as the frequency of vulgarities dissipates through the course of the novel.
As for sexually explicit materials, again, absolutely necessary. Despite the prevalence of incest in this country (and even more so in many others), the topic is rarely broached in school curriculum. What type of message does this omission send to a young person in such a situation? Certainly having a book such as “Push” (upon which the film Precious was based) be banned only serves to further deny the reality many children are living and silence the victims of this horrific and vastly under-reported crime.
One final thought - with very recent events including the movie Precious winning academy awards, the clergy sex abuse scandal being addressed right up to the top most level, Jaycee Dugard’s brave and candid account as a kidnapping survivor of child rape, and new anti-bullying laws in many states, I wonder if perhaps as a society we are ready to take on child abuse at the next level – sexual abuse being perpetrated by family members. A staggering 10 million people in the US alone are victims of incest, yet it is something that is not talked about. Perhaps now more than ever this is the time to fight against the banning of books about incest victims and survivors, and let their voices be heard.
Visit http://www.bannedbooksweek.org/ for ways to participate in this year’s banned book week, September 23-30, 2011.
Thanks Donna for visiting here today!
My review of Spin the Plate will be posted later today!