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Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Be-bop a loony bop

Help! I’ve been exposed to a book. Take it away before it napalms into my flesh and burns away my very bones. Aaaagh!

No, I haven’t gone absolutely bonkers, though some Christian headcases in the USA seem to have.

Get this. According to a website called the Drudge Retort (not to be confused with the Drudge Report), a Christian group in Wisconsin are “seeking ‘the right to publicly burn or destroy by another means’ the book and asking for $120,000 in damages because they were exposed to it in a library display”.

The plaintiffs in this case are the Christian Civil Liberties Union (“Christian Civil Liberties” – isn’t that a contradiction in terms?) and two other plaintiffs, who have been battling to get a particular book removed from the shelves of the library in West Bend.

Right, well, it’s time to reveal just what this piece of seditious, subversive, obscene literature is. It’s a book called Baby Be-Bop by Francesca Lia Block, and the blurb on the Amazon site reads:

Embroidering her prose with lushly romantic imagery, Block returns to the world of Weetzie Bat for this keenly felt story. A prequel of sorts to Weetzie Bat, the novel opens while Weetzie’s best friend Dirk is still a child, lying on his mat at naptime.

“Dirk had known it since he could remember” – known, that is, that he is gay. Tenderly raised by Grandma Fifi, famous for her pastries and her 1955 Pontiac convertible, Dirk struggles with love and fear: “He wanted to be strong and to love someone who was strong; he wanted to meet any gaze, to laugh under the brightest sunlight and never hide.”

After his first heartbreak, with his closest friend (who cannot accept Dirk’s love nor his own for Dirk), Dirk battles more fiercely for identity; beaten up by a gang of punks, he slumps into semiconsciousness and is visited by his ancestors, each telling a haunting, lyrical tale of love, faith and self-acceptance.

What might seem didactic from lesser writers becomes a gleaming gift from Block. Her extravagantly imaginative settings and finely honed perspectives remind the reader that there is magic everywhere. Ages 12-up.

So now you know. That’s just the stuff to bring an end to the world as we know it, innit?

Of the book referred to in that passage above  – Weetzie Bat Wikipedia has this to say:

The novel is set in a world not without pain, but seemingly without prejudice. Issues such as blended families, premarital sex, homosexuality and AIDS are described freely and without apology. This has led to some backlash from parents who do not believe that such material has a place in young adult fiction (which condemnation, in turn, has led to more young adults reading the book).

Ah, yes. Where would book and video and cartoon sales be without idiots who want to censor them? Perhaps we should be thankful that stuff gets out to a wider audience.

But back to the books. Now we’re getting some idea of why this bunch of deluded censors what to ban her material. Quite why 12-ups should not read about AIDS and homosexuality is beyond me. Both are phenomena that are likely to touch every 12-year-old in the world, directly or indirectly.

But there’s no accounting for these nutters. They just want to visit their own misguided and idiotic prejudices onto everyone else.


Diesel B said...

Book burning, eh? You couldn't put a cigarette paper between these particular Christian zealots and the Nazis who burned all the books in the Hirschfeld Institute in Hitler's Germany.

The only books you should ever set fire to are the Bible, the Communist Manifesto, Mein Kampf and the Koran. Oh, and any cookbook written by Jamie Oliver.

Anonymous said...

I agree on a good old fashioned Bible burning. Make sure we're all inclusive though and burn some Korans for good measure.