04 February, 2010

A belated snipe at some 3-month-old news

News of Tender Morsels' WFA win was apparently broadcast on 2CH on 8 November last year.
The author has responded [to the 'sordid wretchedness' accusation] by questioning the assumption that children have the luxury of an innocent childhood. Her aim, she says, was to equip readers for life by showing them “the sorts of issues other people encounter.” [What I actually said was: "How on earth do people imagine we equip children for life, if we never show them the sorts of issues other people encounter...?"]

One of the tragedies of 21st century life is the loss of juvenile innocence we once took for granted. A discerning reader once said, “Some books are not for me, and some are not for me now.” Margo Lanagan’s Tender Morsels is a case in point. I’m Rod Benson for nswchurches.com
...and I shake the dust of Margo's smutty book from my sandals. Without bothering to crack the spine myself, of course.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

And the word "churches" leapt out at me.
I grew up with "fairy tales" about child brides, wicked stepmothers,despots...

I seldom comment, but always read. Yes, I also read your books.Thankyou.

04 February, 2010 20:21  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, you really should show some respect for the church and its' tradition of protecting the innocence of childhood, maybe then they wouldn't attack you ;–)


05 February, 2010 11:57  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The church doesn't have such tradition.I was being asked if i had impure thoughts at confession before i even knew what that meant.

05 February, 2010 21:00  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Smutty? I would have said violent. Rape not really being about sex and all.

Sure stepmothers got burned alive in fairy tales, but the brothers Grimm didn't have the Lanagan gift for evoking every flame, every hoarse-throated shriek, every crisping inch of skin.

If Tender Morsels was a film, it would be R-18+ and illegal for children to watch.

I had the experience of reading one of my mother's (unpoliced) thrillers at a tender age. Possibly it was by Wilbur Smith, possibly not? A female slave on a plantation was raped with a bladed steel phallus that cut her open.

I had nightmares. I was a bookworm but I stopped reading. When I looked at myself in the mirror or in the bath or felt my clothes in my crotch, I imagined that scene over and over, and cringed when anyone touched me.

You can do psychological damage to children.

I loved Tender Morsels, but I am no longer thirteen years old.

It is selfish and mercenary to market this book to a young audience.


08 February, 2010 19:51  
Blogger Among Amid While said...

Thanks for your comment, moreidlethoughts!

Anonymous 2: I think SPD was being sarcastic, hence the wink.

T.D.: I'm very sorry you had a traumatic reading experience due to reading a book you weren't ready for. But I doubt you would have had that trauma reading Tender Morsels at the same age, because although it evokes all sorts of nastiness in the imaginations of readers with some experience of the world, it purposely lacks the very kind of graphic detail you describe, in order for readers (both young adult and older) to be spared images and impressions that would overwhelm the story.

Tender Morsels is not marketed to children, and where it is not clearly mark labelled a young adult book, the text itself steps in as its own gatekeeper. Any reader who takes exception to the word 'slut', or to a sex scene, is warned off before the real violence and unhappiness begin. No, there is nothing I can do to prevent an unready teenager, or child, reading on, but I have given that reader a fairly strong hint of what's to come. Beyond that, I expect their 15+ years in this world to have taught them something about protecting themselves, if protection is what they need.

But there are also young adults who want books that look unpleasantness straight in the eye; they want to use books to explore aspects of the world that they can't (and don't want to) see or reach in real life; they're curious about all sorts of human behaviour; they don't just want to read about the safe and the nice. I think the full range of books should be available to people, both growing and grown, and the equipment to deal with them (including the insight and willpower to close them, when necessary) should be developed in every child. I know it won't be, but my job isn't to compensate for shortcomings in parenting and education. My job is to tell the story that asks to be told, and as well and as truthfully as possible.

08 February, 2010 22:26  
Anonymous Sheryl Gwyther said...

Bravo, Margo! Well said. I would have no hesitation in letting my 15 year-old read it (well, he's actually 22 now, but I would have encouraged in back then). I read 'Tender Morsels' and loved its complexity, its humanity, told truthfully and beautifully.
Sheryl :)
PS Nearly fell off my chair laughing at the comment about 'churches protecting the innocent'. And how peculiar they all prefer to be anonymous. Cowardy custards!

08 March, 2010 17:13  

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