YA/Children's/Adult Books

Ven vendersleighc at yahoo.com
Wed Apr 30 20:57:49 EDT 2003

I've been following this debate with interest (I
do love fireworks) but I'm a bit behind with
replies so I'm just going to add my two pennorth
as a reply to this mail which contained a couple
of points that made me flag it.

Christian answered Minnow

>the question about whether it's a valuable 
exercise to group books by age --
>i don't think you've done anything to dissuade 
me from thinking that yes, it
>is valuable. because while we should make 
decisions for ourselves based with
>specific evidence, what you are ignoring is that

the vast majority of people
>on this planet won't be doing that. do i feel 
like they (and/or their kids)
>should be "protected" (or whatever) from 
inappropriate materials? no. i'm
>more of a mind to throw anything as subversive 
and intelligent at their kids
>as possible because i myself am subversive and 
intelligent and i like the
>idea of things being shaken up beneath the 


:-) Anarchist!  :-))


Mmm what Christian said. I had a pretty free
reading run as an adolescent due in a large part
to an enlightened librarian and parents and
teachers who were blissfully unaware just what
was going on in contemporary sf (this was the
60s/70s). For me warnings about age
suitability/disturbing content have always seemed
useful not as keep out signs but as advice to be
prepared -- this is no walk in the park, pack
your waterproofs and insect repellent kind of
thing.  And when I was a lass it also meant
"don't let your parents see what's inside this
book". Incidentally  in our household the dodgy
books were not, on the whole the ones belonging
to adults but were the ones I used to pinch from
my older brother. On the whole I'm glad to have
read the kind of nbooks I did however my
voracious forays into adult reading did give me
some nasty surprises, of which more, later. 

>since i don't have children, don't have much 
familiarity with children from
>the perspective of an adult, i can't really 
honestly say what i think is or
>is not appropriate for them. however, i would 
hesitate to hand a copy of
>deep secret to someone below, say, 13. judging 
from my own experiences i
>doubt they'd be interested anyway.

<That's the point.  S/he wouldn't be interested 
particularly (nor pick up on
nuances about sexuality or violence that s/he 
didn't already understand and
therefore recognise), and I strongly feel that 
things one isn't interested
in rarely get stored in memory much: they sort of

bounce off.  Only if some
great "thing" is made about some boring book 
(child perspective boring) is
there likely to be any reason to persist with

I don't agree with what I think you're saying
here Minnow (I put in the caveat because I know
I've lost track a bit ). You're right about
nuances and allusions bouncing off -- aged around
eight I thought the sex scene in Hothouse, which
involved the putting of body parts into somewhere
strange, came about because they were mutants!
However the explicit encountered unawares can be
a nasty shock. For ex I wish I hadn't read Harlan
Ellison's A Boy And His Dog (post catastrophe
rape and violence) aged about thirteen. I ws
pretty disturbed by it. Actually i think this
sort of thing is definitely worse at the age when
one is interested in sex and violence
--as you're likely to encounter more than you
actually wanted to know. Rereading your para
Minnow I guess you are only referring to the non
explicit adult stuff......

<(This is leaving aside the matter of elder sibs 
saying "You're too young
for that!".  That may lead to defiant "I am *so* 
old enough to read
*Finnegan's Wake*!" and ploughing all the way 
through just so one can say
"nyah!" afterwards....  I don't think an eleven 
year old would be damaged
by reading *Finnegan's Wake* apart from the 
possibility that his/her brain
might explode.  S/he might even understand it or 
gain something from it,
which is more than most adults do I suspect.  At 
that age I loved *The
Master and Margarita*, which is probably entirely

"unsuitable"; I now have
no idea what it was that so entranced me, but I 
do know it was all my elder
brother's fault in the first place.)>


Reminds me of reading Animal Farm aged 9ish
because it was "about animals". Even though it
gave me nightmares, like the one where Napoleon
ws buried in our driveway, I'm really glad of the
continuing influence of this book on my thinking.


<Abreaction to prohibitions.  Anarchist, me.  I 
blame my parents....

For being too strict? or for setting a good

<I think I heard on the news that the British 
Government has just banned a
toy from sale in the UK on the grounds that 
children might strangle
themselves with it.  I await the banning of the 
sale of balls of string.
Blasted nanny state!>

As I understand it this toy has ended up embedded
in the necks of several young children, requiring
the efforts of determined adults to free them
before they strangled. In TOG it took the
combined ingenuity of the sisters to come up with
a way to asphyxiate with a skipping rope,(
without actully having malice aforethought):
these stretchy stringed toys wrap themselves
round necks like a bolus in the ordinary run of
play. So I think the government is right this
time. NB I'm close friends with a health and
safety officer, mind you, he's an anarchist


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