Calliope Writing


One-Star Reviews of The Catcher in the Rye

Jen over at The Reader’s Room occasionally lists one-star reviews of incredible books, and last week she focused on my all-time favorite: The Catcher in the Rye.

I’ve loved this novel since I first read it in high school, and have revisited it half a dozen times since.

The Catcher in the Rye

But the reviewers featured in this post didn’t quite share my sentiments.

Highlights:

“It’s the book that killed John Lennon. Oswald had a copy. So I thought ‘What the heck?'” – The best reason ever given for deciding to read a book. Obviously.

“I’m not the kind of person who reads a lot of books and this book is a reason why. First the story is not interesting and also the way it’s told is very stupid.” – No…YOU’RE STUPID!

“If Santa leaves this lump of coal for you, shoot that fat bastard!”

Check out all the awful one-star reviews here: Terrible Reviews of Great Books: The Catcher in the Rye.

 

Feature image credit: Bruna Ferrara; via Visual hunt / CC BY-NC-ND



Censored Books That Will Light Your Fire – Part 2

Welcome to the second and final part of The Best Banned Books, According to Me.

Don’t forget to check out Part 1 if you haven’t already.

Banned Books2 Books are Bad

Oh, Mr. Mackey, you’re just dumb wrong. Books are awesome.

5. American Psycho, Bret Easton Ellis

This brilliantly violent novel ran into obstacle after obstacle during its quest to reach readers. Here are just a few things that occurred:

  • Simon & Schuster, who was originally going to publish the novel, dropped the project mere months before it was set for release.
  • Both the author and the publisher who later came on-board received death threats. (“Hey, let’s fight violence with death! Yay!”)
  • Highlights of what this novel has been called: a book of “questionable taste,” “sadistic,” “repulsive,” “the most loathsome offering of the season,” and so on.
  • Just last month, Australian police were removing copies from bookstores because they didn’t have them shrink-wrapped, which is a requirement of material that’s deemed to have “restricted classification.”

Well, I’ve made my opinion of American Psycho and its author quite clear in the past, so you know where I stand. And Ellis makes me love him even more with his response to the last bullet point above:

I told my publisher I want all my books restricted and put in little bags. It’s like a little sandwich!

4. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley

Everyone has their opinions about Brave New World. Some think it’s boring. Dull. Others thing it’s totally badass. I am a member of the latter group.

Among the reasons individuals want this classic piece of literature censored are: blatant sexuality, themes including drugs and suicide, “being anti-family and anti-religion,” not enough multiculturalism, excessive focus on negativity, and a bunch of other reasons over the years.

The author of this article said it best:

Any time you try to censor [Brave New World], excited English teachers print out the article and post it on the Irony board.

Confused about what irony means? Don’t worry. I’m sure I’ll write about it at some point.

3. Of Mice and MenJohn Steinbeck

The first John Steinbeck book I ever read – Of Mice and Men – has a long history with regards to book banishment, as attempts have been made to ban it since the ’50s.

But let’s look at a more recent attempt…because it makes me laugh in a so-sad-it’s-funny way.

In May, parents in Idaho did their best to remove the book from schools because of curse words. Let that sink in for a second.

The best quote I found was:

For parent Mary Jo Finney, the use of words such as “bastard” and “God damn” makes it unsuitable for 14- or 15-year-old students. After counting more than 100 “profanities”, she expressed her shock to the Spokesman-Review that “teachers actually had the audacity to have students read these profanities out loud in class”.

With all due respect, Mary Jo, by the time I was a teenager, I could have filled an entire composition notebook with curse words. “Bastard” and “God damn” were small potatoes.

Now I’m thinking maybe Steinbeck wasn’t that far off when he wrote the below passage.

Banned Books2 Of Mice and Men

2. The Color Purple, Alice Walker

If you haven’t read The Color Purple, chances are you saw the award-winning film with Whoopi Goldberg, Danny Glover, and Oprah. (No, I didn’t include Oprah’s last name. Because she doesn’t need it.) If you have done neither of these things, I command you to read the book right now. If you’re in a rush, at least watch the damned movie.

Like the other novels on my list of favorite banned books, The Color Purple touches on some incredibly controversial topics, so of course someone wants to censor it.

Some of the many, many reasons cited for banning this Pulitzer-Prize-winning masterpiece are:

  • “sexual and social explicitness, and troubling ideas about race relations, man’s relationship to God, African history, and human sexuality” (1984)
  • “rough language,” “explicit sex scenes” (1985)
  • “smut” (sometime in the ’90s)
  • “negative image of black men” (1995)
  • “vulgar and X-rated” (1999)

The folks who made these complaints sound like a barrel of fun. I will certainly invite them to my next Curse-All-Day BDSM party.Banned Books2 The Color Purple

1. The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger

Ah. Every time I read the title, I can’t help but smile and sigh. The Catcher in the Rye is my all-time favorite book. I’ve read it I’m-not-sure-how-many times and get something new out of it each and every read.

So, of course, people have been trying to ban it for years. World.edu informs, “Between 1961 and 1982, The Catcher in the Rye was the most censored book in high schools and libraries in the United States.”

Among the reasons that my absolute favorite novel should be banned? Profanity, sexual explicitness, violence – and in my home state, it was regarded as a “filthy, filthy book.” Way to make us proud, South Carolina.

Also from World.edu is the following report, which I think is brilliant:

Often, the challengers have been unfamiliar with the plot itself. Shelley Keller-Gage, a high school teacher who faced objections after assigning the novel in her class, noted that the challengers “are being just like Holden…They are trying to be catchers in the rye.”

Banned Books2 Catcher in the Rye


A Couple of Extra Nuggets

  • Apparently, a bookstore in Traverse City, Michigan, is allowing customers to return their copies of Go Set a Watchman for a full refund. Their reason? That Go Set a Watchman is “not a sequel or a prequel to To Kill a Mockingbird. Neither is it a new book.” So that means it’s worthy of a refund? Hmm. As someone who hasn’t read the novel but plans to, in spite of the scathing reviews, I have to ask…is it that bad?
  • Shakespeare was a stoner. That is definitely one sentence I never thought I’d say or type. But according to new evidence, it seems the poet had some wacky tobacky mixed in with his tobacco. Just some food for your munchies – I mean, food for thought.

Did I miss any of your favorite banned books? Let me know in the comments below! (I’m a poet and didn’t know it…kind of like Shakespeare the Stoner).




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