Monthly Archives: June 2012

News and Updates for this week (6-25-12)

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I am excited to share that The PTA Man has continued to get excellent reviews on Amazon and Smashwords!  I hope that everyone who enjoys the book will pass its name on to someone else to continue getting word of the book out there.  I thank all of you for your support.  I did get a note that someone found a few errors in the book–if anyone does, please feel free to let me know and I will correct them.  This is a self-published book and thus not professionally proofread.

I am also working on scheduling 2 upcoming author events, one in Palmerton PA (at their public library) and one in Philadelphia PA (which will be a private, invitation only event).  As soon as I have the dates set, I will let everyone know.

Some people have commented in their reviews that they look forward to reading more of my writing.  I do have a few other books in the works, and many more ideas I hope to work on when I have the time.  Right now there is a partial book entitled The Range of Normalcy posted on authonomy.com, but I will post it up here as well.  Additionally, this week I will also post up excerpts of other books I am working on.  All of the feedback I get helps motivate me to keep writing, so I can get these books done and out there to share with everyone!

Thanks!

Elise

Controversial Novels

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All of these books were, at one time in history, banned or considered controverisal in some way.  I would like to thank Rob1969 of authonomy.com for compliling and sharing this list with the rest of the Authonomy members (I’ve added a few as well).

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Harper Lee’s only novel is considered by many to be among the greatest works of fiction in American literature. Yet the story of young Scout Finch and her father, Atticus, has often been banned. Atticus is a lawyer defending a black man accused of raping a white woman. The novel’s frank discussion of rape and central topic of racism have made the book a lightning rod for controversy.

American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
Ellis is a frequent target for protests due to the nature of his writing, but none has faced the level of opposition of American Psycho. The story concerns Patrick Bateman, a businessman who may also be a serial killer. The novel contains highly detailed and disturbing depictions of violence, as well as graphic sexual content. Because most of Bateman’s victims are women, the novel has most often been criticized as being violently misogynist.

And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
This picture book tells the true story of Roy and Silo, two male penguins in New York City’s Central Park Zoo. When the penguins were seen trying to hatch an egg-shaped rock, zookeepers gave them an actual egg. Roy and Silo then raised the chick, Tango. Despite the story concerning penguins, it stirred controversy about same-sex marriage and homosexuality, resulting in widespread bans.

The Awakening by Kate Chopin
Chopin’s story of Edna Pontellier asserting her independence was a pioneering work of feminism when it was published in 1899. Yet it faced challenges from the moment of its release. This was due in part to its treatment of gender roles, but also for its depiction of female sexuality, a highly taboo subject at the time. As recently as 2006, the book was still being challenged by conservatively-minded people for its progressive attitudes towards women.

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
Tolkien’s epic fantasy trilogy follows good and evil forces in pursuit of a magical ring. The book has been banned as ‘satanic’ in some areas and was even burned by members of a church in New Mexico in 2001. The controversy is ironic, though, as Tolkien was a devout Christian and many scholars note Christian themes in his work.

Candide by Voltaire
Written in 1759, Candide is a satirical French novella that takes on a wide variety of targets, including religion, government and philosophers. Not surprisingly, the book was banned immediately upon publication in many parts of the world. It’s been labeled blasphemous, seditious and immoral.

Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
Like many Vonnegut novels, Cat’s Cradle tackles numerous issues, such as the nuclear arms race and religion. In 1972, the Strongsville, Ohio School Board banned the book without stating an official reason. Notes from the meeting include references to the book as ‘completely sick’ and ‘garbage.’ However, this ban was overturned in 1976.

Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers
Fallen Angels is a young adult novel about U.S. soldiers in Vietnam. It was widely acclaimed upon its publication, winning the Coretta Scott King Award in 1989. Yet it has often faced bans due to its graphic war violence and profanity.

Forever by Judy Blume
Judy Blume was one of the first authors to write candidly about a teenage girl who is sexually active, and she’s been the subject of criticism ever since. Her book Forever is a constant target of religious and sexual abstinence groups who don’t think teenagers should read about a girl who goes on ‘the pill.’ Defenders of the book note that the teenagers in the book approach sexual relationships with caution, planning and appropriate protection.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Mary Shelley’s classic 1818 book details a man obsessed with creating life through the reanimation of dead tissue. He succeeds, only to be haunted and tormented by his grotesque creation. Over the past two centuries, the book has been banned for being indecent, objectionable and obscene. Christian groups have protested the book, claiming that it’s in conflict with the principles of their faith.

Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
Christian groups find fault with the witchcraft portrayed in J.K. Rowlings’ immensely popular series. They’re particularly critical of the positive portrayal of witchcraft in literature aimed at children, and the series has been accused of supporting paganism. Additionally, some groups criticize the books for a perceived political agenda.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Angelou’s 1969 autobiography is the first part of a six-volume series. It covers her early life and teenage years. Despite the book’s powerful message of overcoming adversity, many schools and libraries have banned it. This is due to an intense scene of childhood rape, as well as other depictions of sexuality and racism.

Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence
D. H. Lawrence’s 1928 novel was the subject of numerous obscenity trials in the United Kingdom, United States and other countries as recently as the 1960s. Objections were raised about the book’s explicit sex scenes and use of taboo four-letter words. The plot of the story centers on a woman named Constance who has an affair with the gamekeeper of her estate.

Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Despite widespread acclaim and popularity, Lord of the Flies has been banned for a plethora of reasons. Many critics complain about violence, language, sexuality and racism. Others accuse the novel of attacks on religion, the disabled and women.

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Of Mice and Men has been a staple of high school reading lists for decades. In that time, it’s found its place on banned books lists throughout the country. The most common complaint is the coarse language, though some consider it offensive to Christians, women, minorities and the disabled.

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
Steinbeck’s Pulitzer Prize-winning 1939 novel follows the Joads, a poor family from Oklahoma, during the Great Depression. Immediately upon its publication, the novel was banned in many places and even burned in some. It’s detractors faulted Steinbeck’s sympathy for the poor and socialist tendencies. Leaders in the farming industry also attacked the book for its portrayal of migrant workers receiving poor treatment.

Beloved by Toni Morrison
Loosely based on a true story, Morrison’s 1987 novel won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. It tells the story of Sethe, an escaped slave, as she tries to build a life for her and her daughter, Denver. Many school districts have banned it for language, violence, sex and racism.

A Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Newton Peck
This coming of age story is one of the all-time most challenged books. Peck’s 1972 novel depicts a boy and his pet pig Pinky. The boy’s father is a butcher and the book portrays animal slaughter with graphic accuracy. This gruesome content has often led to calls for the book to be banned.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Mark Twain’s classic tale, published in 1884, continues the adventures of Huckleberry Finn and his friend Tom Sawyer from Twain’s earlier novel, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. There is a perpetual debate about whether the book is racist for its extensive use of a racial epithet. The book’s supporters claim the book makes a statement against the racism that was prevalent when the book was published.

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
The story of the frustrated and confused Holden Caulfield has been banned by many schools and libraries since its publication in 1951. The censorship primarily stems from the book’s profanity and sexual references. It’s also commonly under fire for its perceived immorality. Throughout the novel, the protagonist drinks, smokes and engages in many other forms of questionable behavior.

The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
Cormier’s 1974 young adult novel focuses on Jerry Renault, a high school student who stands up to the vicious secret student society that controls his school. People have been objecting to and banning this book since its publication. Chief complaints involve the nearly 200 swear words that appear in the story and the scenes that depict violence and masturbation.

The Color Purple by Alice Walker
The Color Purple won both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. Through a series of diary entries and letters, the novel portrays the lives of black women in the South during the 1930s. The book has often been banned for being sexually explicit and violent.

The Giver by Lois Lowry
Often referred to as ‘the suicide book,’ Lois Lowry’s 1993 novel is among the most commonly banned book in middle school libraries. The book centers on Jonas, a 12-year-old boy living in a future society where only one person holds the collective memories of the civilization. The book’s ending is ambiguous, but some question whether its possible portrayal of suicide is inappropriate for young readers.

Some other controversial books:

Clockwork Orange

We Need to Talk About Kevin

Still Missing

Fifty Shades of Gray

Books to Read and Review

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Do you keep a list of books that you want to read?  I do.  I have a book-a-day calendar which gives me ideas, plus my favorite part of Oprah’s magazine is the book review section.  I have a notebook which I devote to keeping a list of all the fiction and nonfiction books I want to read.  I thought I’d share some of my list with you–so if you need something good to read, go check one of these out (as long as you’ve already read my book!!!).  The majority of these books were featured in and recommended by different magazines.  After you’re done reading it, come back here and share a review with us!

We Need to Talk About Kevin–Lionel Shriver [this was recently made into a movie]

The Rebel Wife

The Whisperer–Donato Carrisi

A Land More Kind Than Home–Wiley Cash

The Book of Lost Fragrances–M.J. Rose

You Deserve Nothing–Alexander Maksik

Gone Missing–Linda Castillo

The House of Velvet and Glass–Katherine Hove

The Book of Madness and Cures–Regina O’Melveny

The Chaperone–Laura Moriarty

Menage–Alix Kates Shulman

Wife 22–Melanie Gideon

Gone Girl–Gillian Flynn

Will–Christopher Rush

Little Century–Anna Keesey

Book of the Week

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Another excellent book this week:  The Sherlockian by Graham Moore.  The book alternates between late 1800’s/early 1900’s London and modern day.  I absolutely LOVE any stories about pre-modern times London.  The story includes many details about the writing of Arthur Conan Doyle, including the extreme reaction that society had when he killed off Sherlock Holmes.  I found it fascinating to learn that he was good friends with Bram Stoker, who at that time was a theater worker of low status and was struggling to write a book.  Conan Doyle often ridiculed him for being an unsuccesful writer, and Stoker may have felt jealous over his success. 

The novel also includes other interesting info such as descriptions of the woman’s suffrage movement in Europe.  Here’s a great quote from the book which really sums up what it was like for woman around 1900:  “The women of England have but three choices in this age.  We toil with our hands, we toil with our cunts, or we marry rich and toil with our very hearts.”  Another great segment of the book from a speech given at a pro-suffrage meeting:  “In years past, the government concerned itself solely with the affairs of men.  But in recent years, the state has seen fit to involve itself in matters of education, in matters of child rearing, and in matters of the home.  The preoccupations of women are becoming the preoccupations of society as a whole.  As a result, women must have a say in the conduct of their government.  Women now seek to involve themselves in the life of their government because their government has involved itself in their lives!  To grant women the right of suffrage will not cause them to abandon their society obligations but rather cause them to more effectively fulfill them!”  I love this quote.  But isn’t it unfortunate that all these years later, after all the fighting for women’s rights, that many men in government still feel they can have a say over what is best for a woman?

My Tribute to e.e.cummings

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e.e. cummings has been my favorite poet since I discovered him when I was a teenager.  I love the free-form way he wrote, completely disregarding the rules of punctuation and using words like an artist uses paint.  His writing style has been a great influence to me in my own writing.

Here is one of my favorite poems of his, entitled “i like my body”:

i like my body when it is with your
body. It is so quite a new thing.
Muscles better and nerves more.
i like your body. i like what it does,
i like its hows. i like to feel the spine
of your body and its bones, and the trembling
-firm-smooth ness and which i will
again and again and again
kiss, i like kissing this and that of you,
i like, slowly stroking, the shocking fuzz
of your electric fur, and what-is-it comes
        over parting flesh . . . . And eyes big Love crumbs,                                                

 and possibly i like the thrill of under me you quite so new

And here is a great quote from e.e. cummings:

“To be nobody but yourself in a world
which is doing its best day and night to make you like
everybody else means to fight the hardest battle
which any human being can fight and never stop fighting.”  

Book of the Week

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I’m reading an excellent book this week, historical fiction, called The Divining by Barbara Wood.  It takes place in 54 C.E. in several locales including Rome, Babylon, and Persia.  Initially I thought the book was referring to the type of divining where a person uses rods to locate water.  However, in this book divining refers to mysitcal powers such as having visions of the future, visits from the dead, etc.  The book has everything that I love about historical fiction:  a rich description of what it was like to live during a certain time period and details of far-off places I may never get to visit.  I was enthralled by the end of the first page and don’t want to put it down.  Highly recommended!

Favorite Books List

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I’ve been trying to keep a list over the years of my favorite books.  I can also check my shelves for the books that have remained, in lieu of being traded in or given away.  I’d like to share my list here, but am hoping that all of you out there can contribute some of your favorite reads!  Send or post them as a comment.

1.  Death Be Not Proud

          *a great classic, no explanation needed

2.  The Lovely Bones:  Alice Seabold

          *Alice Seabold is one of my favorite authors.  I think she is a gifted writer.

3.  I Know this Much Is True:  Wally Lamb

          *the story of twins, one of whom is diagnosed with schizophrenia and the other remains to struggle with understanding and dealing with this diagnosis

4.  The Interpretation of Murder

          *a historical fiction novel about Freud, Jung, a patient they share, and Freud’s journey to the US

5.  The Dogs of Babel

6.  The Harry Potter series

7.  the Shopaholic series by Sophie Kinsella

8.  False Memory: Dean Koontz

9.  Eat Me (yes, this is the book name, I’m not telling you off!)

10.  The Clan of the Cave Bear series by Jane Auel

11.