Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Help a Sister Out

emmissary, violence, profanity, sex, classics, books, everyone poops
Emissary has made a most shocking admission: she only reads children's novels because grownup novels are too dirty! (And then she found out that children's novels have nice gay people in them, and that's dirty too!)

I am both shocked and appalled at the thought of a grown woman limiting herself to children's novels*, so I would like your help in compiling a reading list for Emissary.

Here are Emissary's requirements:

Well, first of all, I got the book from the children's section (instead of the teen or adult). I tend to read books from there because "adult" material usually means a lot of sex, violence, and profanity.

So, no sex, no violence, no profanity. I presume she doesn't read any religious literature, such as the bible, the book of mormon or the q'ran, because those requirements would certainly exclude those books, but be that as it may, I've tried to help her out.

Sense and Sensibility/Pride_and_Prejudice by Jane Austen. No, wait, sex and violence.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. No, wait, violence.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. No, certainly not.

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. Is she offended by criminals/criminal activity?

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Oh, right, no sex. Well, you don't actually read about the sex, so maybe that's okay.

Tom Sawyer/Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. It's filled with the "n" word, but that wasn't really regarded as a bad word by the establishment (you know, white people) at the time . . . we'll put this one in the "maybe" column.

No Hemingway, Faulkner, Flaubert, Fitzgerald and certainly no Lawrence, Hugo or Hardy.

JRR Tolkein? Nope, his tales of the triumph of good over evil through sacrifice and love are entirely out. There's violence, you see.

It's sad, really. Emmissary has made every novel worth reading in the last, well, ever, unreadable, and must resort to books like Everyone Poops, because she's decided that every depiction of sex, violence or profanity is offensive, regardless of the context. It doesn't matter that sex and violence are part of the human condition, and that any book that attempts to explore the human condition must necessarily explore them. It doesn't matter that some people talk like truckers on meth, and any honest portrayal of them cannot scrub that clean. It doesn't matter to her the beauty and truth she is missing, as long as her bookshelf remains pure.

I really can't think of anything sadder.

*I read a lot of children's novels because my 10 year old niece has recently discovered the world of books, and I like to know what she's into. Horrifying. Not due to content, I couldn't care less which characters are gay, but the writing tends toward the barely literate, if not the outright dull.

**Hat tip to my friends, who shamed me with their memories of the classics.


  1. So she doesn't like any conflict and resolution? So she shuts herself off from the real world too then, as it has violence, sex, etc? What a sad sad life trying to dodge reality.

    I was going to suggest "Nation" by Terry Pratchett as it is a children's book, but it has violence in it, so right out.

  2. Reminds me that I probably shouldn't have read 'Pillars of the Earth' when I was nine ;)

    How can anybody find too much sex and violence in Jane Austen stories? I'm quite sure neither the one nor the other word is ever mentioned...

  3. Wow, she sure isn't reading the kids books I've read. Hell, the books I read to my daughter feature more conflict than she would be comfortable.
    I wonder if she reads Dahl? Hee!

  4. How bizarre. I read her post too and was mostly struck by this paragraph where Emissary laments:

    "First, she made the [gay] character very likable. This isn't the first book this character has been in, and in all of the others this unexpected romantic side was missing. It may have been because the girl was younger then, but (at least from my perspective) there was no warning that she was anything but heterosexual."

    I think she's implying that in the real world, gay people aren't at all likable or "normal." Coming from someone who censors herself from reality, I'm not surprised that she has such an ignorant worldview.

  5. I thought Jane Austen would be okay, until a friend of mine pointed out that one of those books is situated in the middle of a war, and both involve sex, though nobody really talks directly about it.

    Fannie: yeah, that was great. "gays in real life are all fire-breathing monsters! this is so unrealistic!"

  6. She must not have read The Road or any other Cormac McCarthy novel, either.

    And no, I doubt she's read any Dahl ;D.

  7. I used to date a girl who insisted that I needed to read more children's books. But her reasoning was that I pretty much skipped directly to Tom Clancy and then non-fiction starting in fifth grade and I'd missed out on some really good books.

    So for Christmas she gave me, like, five or six Newberry Award winners that she had liked and thought I would appreciate. It was rather sweet.

    Never did read 'em. Don't talk to her anymore, either. Not sure what the life lesson in that story is.

  8. Madeline L'engle, Geds. A Wrinkle in Time, specifically.

    That's the only kids book I can think of that holds up well in adulthood.

  9. Geds: The Percy Jackson series, if you like a little mythology in your storytelling. Or the Series of Unfortunate Events. If you like warped reads.
    Also, Corlaine and The Graveyard Book Neil Gaiman. They are both work on an adult level as well as a child's level (Coraline is particularly disturbing).
    I could go on and on. But I will spare you all.

  10. In criticizing the author's "stealth" methods of introducing a gay character, her number one complaint is:

    First, she made the character very likable. ... there was no warning that she was anything but heterosexual.

    The nerve of that author, not dressing the character in a plaid shirt and Birkenstocks and giving her a buzz-cut. How unbearably sneaky, I say you...

  11. not to be mean
    (ok, just a little mean)

    are we entirely discounting the idea that she reads only Children's books because she is incapable of understanding works written for adults?

    snarky-bitchyness aside, what about all those books by... um... she wrote "Are You There, God, It's Me, Margret" and such. lost her name.

    how the *hell* does she think kids stuff is violence-free? has she *met* any children? nasty, mean, rude and violent little buggers. if they weren't so cute, no one would tolerate them at all
    (i am not being serious about hating children. i like children, at least once they are capable of any sort of mutual conversation.)


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