Sunday, February 22, 2009

I am looking at...

...a very nice blue-and-white handmade bowl I received from Granville Middle School, along with what I believe to be an OSU card protector. 
I mean, if it's not a card protector I don't know what it is. Those are just two mementos of my recent trip to Granville, Ohio, home of my new BFF Dana Gilligan, who can make a foam hot dog costume look very stylish.  I am not kidding.
The students at GMS were great--they had a lot of questions, most of which I did my best to answer. Unfortunately, the most common questions had to do with the ending of Invisible, and I couldn't answer them because about half the students had not yet read the book! As you can see from the second picture, the students and faculty put in a lot of work in anticipation of my visit. Jana Von Dach, a professional poker player masquerading as school librarian, brought in her own poker paraphernalia to make me feel comfortable on stage. It felt just like home, Jana. Thanks!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Godless Brouhaha

"After numerous parent complaints, administrators at Oxford High School are asking teachers to consider removing the book Godless by Pete Hautman from their summer reading lists."
That's a quote from a February 3 article in the Oxford Eagle, an Oxford, Mississippi newspaper. Here's a link to the article
This is the first time, to my knowledge, that Godless has been challenged in a public (or any other) school.  I wrote a respectful and polite letter to the principal of the school early last week, but I have received no response from him.
What I find sad and disturbing about this sort of thing is the message it sends to teachers, parents, and students.  When a school administration kowtows to small group of parents (I'm guessing it is only two or three), they are telling the teachers that they do not trust their judgement, and that a few strident voices can control what books are appropriate to assign to their students.  The parents of all the other students, who rely upon the school administration to moderate those fringe voices, get the message that a few extremists are calling the shots in their child's education.  The students get the same message, with the added embarrassment of being "protected" from a book that hundreds of thousands of middle school students have read.
The other thing that bothers me is this: I strongly suspect that the parents who objected to Godless have not read the book.  Because if they had read it, I do not think they would find it objectionable.  We see this over and over again in cases of book banning.  One activist finds reason to object to a book and they inflame a bunch of other parents who read, at most, a few selected, out-of-context passages.  
Oxford High School, I should mention is a large, progressive public school with no history of book banning that I can find.  I hope that this problem with Godless is an isolated incident, and that it does not spread to other books in the school district.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

This is one of those posts where I have nothing to say...

...but feel the need to say something because it has been one month since my last post. This may indicate that my life has been largely uneventful otherwise unworthy of celebration, or it may mean that I have been deliriously happy, or occupied with projects so fascinating that I’ve been unable to tear myself away. All of the above are somewhat true. I’m getting a lot of writing done. No funerals or weddings or births in the past month. No salmonella or septicemia or bubonic plague. The dogs have been obsessed with moving from one sunny spot to another. No travel. No flat tires or furnace failures during our subzero January. No emergency room visits. No meteorites crashing through the house. I’m midway through a Lost marathon, watching seasons two through four on (four or five episodes a day) and enjoying it tremendously. Life is good. I even got a laugh out of the latest one star review of my novel Sweetblood on Here is the review in its entirety:
Now that is an effective review.  You know exactly where the reviewer is coming from and what she thinks about the book, all in 25 words.  If only I could express myself so succinctly.