If you’ve waited to celebrate the chance to be Officially Subversive during Banned Books Week, it’s not too late! Sure, you probably figured that Huck Finn is a perennial favorite for its politically incorrect language and Fifty Shades of Grey for its Crimes Against Ink and Trees, but I am willing to bet there are quite a few that will make you say, “Ummm. What?” The alleged “reasons” for protecting Our Nation’s Youth are even more bizarre than you can imagine.
Take our quiz and see if you can guess the actual arguments that succeeded in getting the following ten books on the Naughty List. Answers at the end of quiz!
a) The National Pork Council feared declining bacon sales
b) Children were trapping dangerous spiders and being bitten
c) A Kansas school district decided that talking animals are blasphemous and unnatural
d) Girls were being encouraged to defy their fathers
a) Removed from classrooms in Miller, Missouri, for ‘making promiscuous sex look like fun.’
b) Removed from Texas libraries for “encouraging revolution”
c) Attempted ban in California for “focusing on negativity.”
d) Both a and c
Why is dad so sad? Probably because he just checked his mail and found his self-addressed stamped envelope in his box, his manuscript inside, and the dreaded form letter saying, “We are sorry, but your manuscript does not currently meet our specific needs.” The first dozen or so times, Dad wanted to believe the closing line promising to review his work in the future but…
Dr. Seuss (aka Theodore Geisel) knew the feeling. His now-classic children’s book And to Think I Saw It on Mulberry Street was rejected a whopping twenty-seven times before it was finally accepted by Vanguard Press. This may be your fate as well.
Putting your work out in the world is scary. Rejection sucks. It can make you afraid to do it again. But you have to try. Because the twenty-seventh or twenty-eighth time might just be the one.
Novelist Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible, The Bean Trees) offers this advice to writers feeling wounded: “This manuscript of yours that has just come back from another editor is a precious package. Don’t consider it rejected. Consider that you’ve addressed it ‘to the editor who can appreciate my work’ and it has simply come back stamped ‘Not at this address’. Just keep looking for the right address.”
To give you hope, here are ten rejections of famous writers as well as a some of their reactions and advice about coping with rejection:
Anyone who has ever marked up a page of The Great Gatsby, you’re in good company. Dangerous Minds this week posted a page from Sylvia Plath’s own copy, complete with annotations. But of course, as they’re Sylvia Plath’s, we inevitably find ourselves reading into them…
The excerpt comes from the first chapter of the novel. In it, Daisy tells Nick and company her reaction to the birth of her daughter. Here’s exactly what Plath found so interesting on the page:
She told me it was a girl, and so I turned my head away and wept. ‘All right,’ I said, ‘I’m glad it’s a girl. And I hope she’ll be a fool – that’s the best thing a girl can be in the world, a beautiful little fool.’
“You see I think everything’s terrible anyhow,” she went on in a convinced way. “Everybody thinks so -nthe most advanced people. And I know. I’ve been everywhere and seen everything and done everything.” Her eyes flashed around her in a defiant way, rather like Tom’s, and she laughed with thrilling scorn. “Sophisticated – God, I’m sophisticated!”
In the margin beside the highlighted second paragraph, Plath wrote the comment “l’ennui.” So whereas Nick “felt the basic insincerity of what she had said,” Plath herself felt Daisy to be suffering from listlessness. Was she sympathetic to Daisy’s cynical views of the world?
Seemingly, the passage resonated enough with Plath for her to mark it up like that. But should we take meaning from it, or simply chalk it up to active reading?
Any thoughts eNoters?