Neither here nor there

July 25, 2010 § Leave a comment

  • This article in The Guardian: Enid Blyton’s Famous Five Get 21st-Century Makeover.  It’s the silliest thing I’ve heard. Millions of non-white kids in varying hues of cream, brown and black read Enid Blyton millions of miles away from the UK without passing out from the sheer difficulty presented by the text that included phrases like, “lashings of pop” and “jolly japes”. This is how misguided marketing kills reading. Children figure these things out; I did, as almost everyone I know who read the books did. The books were written in a certain milieu. The “slang” reflects that time and place. End of story. And while we’re at it, I’m against changing words that are “racist” and “sexist” and “classist”. Blyton wrote horribly racist, sexist, classist things. Purifying her books by updating her language just makes life easier for the adults – everyone can rest easy knowing that their kids are reading “safe” books. But using this as an opportunity to discuss what their kids read? To explain to children why Blyton had those views, why people all over the world continue to have those views? That’s a little bit more complicated. No one has time to talk about things anymore. So yes, let the kids think that Blyton “couldn’t have meant ‘tinker’ perjoratively.” Let’s purify people of their intentions, real or imagined. Let’s just pretend everything is jolly well fine.
  • I’ve criticised VenusZine’s new “direction” under the new publisher and editorial board once before. Unfortunately, I still had one more issue to go before the subscription expired, and so when I received the Summer 2010 issue I stared despondently at Jack White staring despondently down at his guitar, and opened it. It still sucks. This time, they had the ‘VZ’s Ultimate Guide to Summer Reading’ section, which had a little sidebar of their 10 Essential Authors. I produce the list in its entirety:

  1. Richard Yates
  2. Alice Hoffman
  3. Jonathan Safran Foer
  4. Alice Munro
  5. Hunter S. Thompson
  6. Joyce Carol Oates
  7. John Steinbeck
  8. Jodi Picoult
  9. Chuck Klosterman
  10. Mary Karr

It’s amazing! It’s like the Venus Zine writers have never heard of a non-white author in their life! It’s like they’ve never read a good book in their life! It’s like they’re a bunch of retirees in Florida with a subscription to Poets and Writers and Writer’s Digest.

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