[Dis]Regarding Slush

My dear dear friends over at seem to be in two separate camps over their opinions of the most recent literary success of 50 Shades of Grey. Thanks to a recent New York Times article and a friend of a friend explaining the concept and history of the book(s) to me, I have a general idea of what the hullabaloo is about. The Verbal Vixen wrote an interesting post concerning her take on the whole phenomena and she emailed me today saying that they were real page turners. At the end of her post, the Verbal Vixen included,

The Literary Man, of course, officially refuses to read such poorly written nonsense. However, we sheepishly have to admit that some of us on the literary team have crossed over to the dark side and bought the books. We had to see what all the fuss was about. Surprisingly, we read them with alarming speed. We were shocked by the lack of editing and poorly constructed sentences, and yet we couldn’t stop reading. In fact, we’re glad we read them.

The Literary Man can be a bit rigid about what should and should not be read, but I think he is being counterproductive to disregard books that can totally captivate an audience (especially, when it comes from a new and/or off-the-radar writer). A recent discussion with another writerly friend turned to the idea of “shouldn’t we be familiar with it if we are going to make fun of it?” I know that is a reductive way to state it but come on. I couldn’t really fully accept how atrocious in so many ways the Twilight books were until having a glance through them. I can fully disregard the Dragoon Tattoo Books because I read about 40 pages of the first a few years ago and was completely bored by it.

AND….not only has a supposedly poorly written, yet page turning guilty pleasure swept the reading public but it has sparked controversy! Like the hillbillies they are, the libraries in Brevard County, Florida have pulled all copies from their shelves. What?! Regardless of what one might think of these books, the real response should be SERIOUSLY?! More Censorship? What’s haaappppennning?????

“It’s quite simple – it doesn’t meet our selection criteria,” Cathy Schweinsberg, library services director, told Florida Today. “Nobody asked us to take it off the shelves. But we bought some copies before we realised what it was. We looked at it, because it’s been called ‘mommy porn’ and ‘soft porn.’ We don’t collect porn.”

Brevard does stock copies of the Kama Sutra, Fanny Hill, Fear of Flying, Tropic of Cancer and Lolita – “because those other books were written years ago and became classics because of the quality of the writing,” said Schweinsberg. James’s novel, which has sold more than three million copies in the US and racked up over 100,000 sales in its first week on sale in the UK, “is not a classic”, she explained. —The Guardian

Florida resident Linda Tyndall has created a petition trying to urge the library to reconsider. The petition explains, “Because banning books is wrong, no matter what the perceived content.” —mediabistro

Public and private libraries stock books that deal with all sorts of material. For example, incest, racism, abuse, etc. (umm, I think we’ve all heard of the Bible, Mein Kampf, anything by Faulkner etc. all of which are easily accessible; who cares about this one popular book?).

Good grief.


Writerly Nerd Alert

I suppose this could also fall into the category of History Nerd Alert, too. For numerous reasons, it’s great living in NYC and one of them is all of the fantastic libraries, both public and private, that we have. I was perusing the stacks yesterday in search of a book that pertained to the novel I’m writing (DISCLAIMER: my research includes WWII/Nazi Germany + artwork; I’m not some weirdo totally obsessed with Hitler, for your information). The book I was searching out, clearing had been stolen and the librarians couldn’t find it either.

But then it happened…

Total, full-on NERD ALERT!

It was a smorgasbord of original texts from Europe from the war. Also, for some crazy reason, they have not been shelved away in the rare book department. Better for me. I checked out two books: Making Hitler Look Silly and Ein Buch vom Führer für die Deutsche Jungend (A Book from the Leader for the German Youth).

The first, is a collection of caricatures by Kukrynisky and the second, was a book distributed to the German youth. Not only is it a treat to see these books in person, but also, to delicately handle them. It’s that cliché: like holding a part of history. I’ve taken some quick photos of the books and put them below. Click on the images to make them larger.