A humble little blog about books, information, and other things that are good to know.

Archive for July, 2012

TL;DR Challenge – The Stephen King Edition

Stephen King

Image via Kotaku.

So, here’s how the game works: I’ve taken a bunch of relatively well-known stories, all centered around the same theme, and whittled their plotlines down to a one-sentence summary. Your goal is to see how many you can match up with their original titles and authors.

The theme of the day is Stephen King, which will hopefully be tougher than the arbitrary “classics and favourites” I picked to test-drive the game. (Though a surprising of people were stumped by the tale of the red-haired orphan. As Canadians we should know that Pippi Longstocking is not the literary world’s only red-haired orphan!) The selections made can be short stories or full-length novels, but I promise none of them is the single episode of The X-Files he wrote back in the fourth or fifth season of the series.

You can check your answers here.

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Childism

Title: Childism: Confronting Prejudice Against Children

Author: Elisabeth Young-Bruehl

Year of Publication: 2012

Genre Keywords: abuse, children, child abuse, child protection, domestic violence, emotional abuse, narcissism, neglect, non-fiction, parenting, prejudice, psychology, sexual abuse, sociology, violence, witch hunts.

Summary: In our culture, adults tend to understand children as the property of their parents, wild and uncivilized creatures who must be made to submit to authority rather than nurtured to fulfill some innate potential. The essential thesis of the book is that child abuse is a symptom of these larger prejudices, which are one point on the continuum that leads from responsible caregiving into abusive behaviour. The author, a trained and certified psychoanalyst, uses her observations of real abuse victims and of well-known studies in Child Abuse and Neglect to make the case that protecting children from abuse requires us to consider and challenge our beliefs about the nature of the child.

Who’ll Love It: Anybody who cares deeply about children will want to at least consider the idea that we interact with them more as possessions to be shown off, pets to be trained, than as real human beings. (Sure, they’re works in progress, but aren’t we all?) Fans of psychoanalytic theory and of topics in Prejudice Studies (like racism and sexism) will definitely appreciate Young-Bruehl’s approach. If your first reaction, however, was “Well, kids are wild animals who require strict discipline to become grown-up people”, you might want to start off with books on child development, investigating the educational and emotional needs of children as they grow. I also recommend How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish; I consider it the definitive guide to treating children with respect while still providing appropriate guidance and boundaries. I basically have it memorized.

Reality Check: Young-Bruehl definitely makes a point of restricting the scope of her book; she discusses childism primarily in the concept of child abuse and its psychological ramifications. But there are so many different places to apply the theory of childism. Consider child beauty pageants, where children are dressed up and made to perform like show dogs, and the related phenomenon of “stage parents“. How about the controversy over prescribing medication to make children more manageable in the classroom? Or the juvenile detention laws in your jurisdiction? These are just a few examples, but the exploration can go on in countless directions anywhere you find children. What examples of childism do you see around you?

Want a first taste of Elisabeth Young-Bruehl’s ideas about our social prejudices against children? This interview makes a great introduction to her writings on childism and its relationship to child abuse.

One-Sentence Stories

This is fun: take a full-sized, famous book and compress it down to describe the plot in one sentence. Failbook calls it “the tl;dr versions” of the classics. Wanna play?

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Fifty Shades: One Good Deed

"Fifty Shades of Grey" buttons, some misspelled.

Image via Flickr.

It’s badly-written, especially considering all the hype. The sex isn’t very sexy. It idealizes virginity in a really unhealthy way. It stereotypes BDSM role-players as depraved and broken people. The characters are flat and wooden. The dialogue sucks.

There’s a lot I find wrong with Fifty Shades of Grey (some of which I covered in a prior post, if you’re interested).

But I spent some time the other day thinking about whether Fifty Shades of Grey got anything right. I mean, nothing that poorly-written deserved to be published, much less become the summer’s blockbuster read and get a movie deal, but isn’t there anything that makes its popularity more significant than just a tragic waste of ink and e-book memory?

And I found it: the one good thing about Fifty Shades.

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Banned Books with Gay Content

It’s been hectic lately – getting ready to move, plus job-seeking, plus celebrating a milestone birthday with one of my best friends! – but I’ll get back to more regular writing some time soon. In the meantime, check out this list of banned and challenged books (old and new, fiction and non-fiction, written for all age levels) from Huffington Post – all books deemed objectionable by some because they deal with LGBT themes.

Glad Day!

Front alcove of Glad Day Books.

Image via Pride Library at the University of Western Ontario.

I had intended to post a Pride booklist, but there’s something else I want to talk about in this post-Pride blog entry: an experience that made me super-excited about a bookstore for the first time in a good long while.

Oh, I’ve been excited about books at a bookstore, books I have the opportunity to buy or can’t wait to read. But this time, it’s the bookstore worth getting excited about.

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