A blog about books and the other wonderful things in life, like cats and food and British TV.
This case seems especially enlightening to me because there are so few “dirty” or “controversial” parts in An Abundance of Katherines. I mean, it’s a buddy novel about two best friends who literally use the word “fug” in lieu of the word “fuck,” and who when they curse, do so mostly in Arabic or German. Is the non-English cursing the issue? It it the book’s abundance of abstract mathematics? Its misplacement of the tomb of Archduke Franz Ferdinand? The fact that one of the central characters is a Muslim?
I really don’t know. And it’s not clear to me that the school districts that have banned the book have a particularly good handle on the “why” of it either.
I’m sorry if I sound a little exasperated here, but I’m frustrated because we train and pay teachers to teach, and then we don’t trust them to teach.
Some parents seem to feel that public school exists solely for the benefit of their children and that everything in the curriculum must align with their value systems. But that’s ludicrous: Public schools exist for the benefit of the PUBLIC, so that we as a country might have a better educated population capable of critical thinking. We decided centuries ago that this was good—that education in childhood leads to more informed and engaged citizens, and that education also helps people to grow the economy through innovation and increased productivity.
So my frustration isn’t with Katherines or any other book. It’s about what schools should do: Should schools tell you only what your parents think they should tell you? Or should that stuff be decided by the educators who’ve been trained explicitly for that purpose?
I go down to the shore in the morning
and depending on the hour the waves
are rolling in or moving out,
and I say, oh, I am miserable,
what should I do? And the sea says
in its lovely voice:
Excuse me, I have work to do.
My Least Favorite Trope (and this post will include spoilers for The Lego Movie, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Matrix, Western Civilization, and—cod help me—Bulletproof Monk*.) is the thing where there’s an awesome, smart, wonderful, powerful female character who by all rights ought to be the Chosen One and the hero of the movie, who is tasked with taking care of some generally ineffectual male character who is, for reasons of wish fulfillment, actually the person the film focuses on. She mentors him, she teaches him, and she inevitably becomes his girlfriend… and he gets the job she wanted: he gets to be the Chosen One even though she’s obviously far more qualified. And all he has to do to get it and deserve it is Man Up and Take Responsibility.
And that’s it. Every god-damned time. The mere fact of naming the films above and naming the trope gives away the entire plot and character arc of every single movie.