Monday, March 26, 2007

Good Books

Well, you can't do your research assignment on Henry Miller anymore at Terrel High School in Texas. They've determined Mr. Miller's books are unsuitable for high school kids to report on. I read one of his novels a long time ago, and if I recall correctly, it was largely about Mr. Miller's sex life. Should high school kids be reading about sex? I don't know, but they'll be thinking about it regardless. Sometimes I think it's good if they read anything whatsoever.

A student who does service in our office regularly comes in with novels entitled Bitch, or Blood on the Sidewalk, and various others of this ilk. She says her aunt has a collection, and she seems to finish several a week. The list must be endless. Is it doing her any good? Who knows? But at least she's reading. I have to admit I like that.

Call me old-fashioned, but when I'm looking for sex and depravity, I really enjoy Charles Bukowski. I just reread his first novel, Post Office, and it's incredible. It's remarkable to think there are, or ever were, people like Bukowski. But I watched a documentary about him recently, and I'm convinced Bukowski was really Bukowski. If you've ever wondered why people "go postal," you have to read this book.

Would I want my high-school kid to read this book? Now that's a very good question, and I'm afraid I won't be able to give an accurate answer for a few years. Right now my kid is more interested (much to my relief) in The Chronicles of Narnia.

Explicit sex and extreme violence grace the pages of many books approved by New York City. Is that a bad idea? Is it a good idea? Will it get kids who wouldn't read otherwise interested?

What do you think?
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