Literature, with the naughty bits

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A book to throw across the room

When I read something bad, I feel compelled to write about it. Partly, I suppose, to ensure that my reaction is legitimate, not just some awful moment of bitter-author jealousy; also partly to justify the time I've put into reading.

So, a confession: I've been reading The Mists of Avalon and actually hoping to discover that it has been censored somewhere, so I can write about it here. Because it is so very, very bad. More than once the writing has made me laugh out loud--and not because the author meant it to be funny. There isn't an ounce of deliberate humor here, as the characters all know they're in an epic tragedy and therefore speak exclusively in a language of ponderous platitudes and dramatic assertions (in which exclamation points serve as a handy substitute for emotion).

Anyway, the book hasn't been on the ALA's list of the hundred most challenged books for either the nineties or the aughts, and the ALA website doesn't have earlier lists than that. It must have raised some hackles in the eighties, though, right? I mean, there's sex--ponderous, epic, tragic sex, even if it is mostly written in soft focus--and there are blatant challenges to Christianity. Plus, feminism, and magic, and witchcraft. It cannot have escaped the Reagan years unscathed.

Maybe I'll just write about it anyway.

No comments: