In this installment of The Daily Circuit, Kerri Miller interviews Sarah Coyne (author of the recent BYU profanity study), Pam Alleyn (founder of LitWorld and LitLife), and partway through, Andrew Karre (editorial director at Carolrhoda Books and all-round rockstar) shows up.
While it was, for sure, an interesting (and polite, thankfully) conversation, I admit to getting a tad worked up a few times. And you might do so as well, regardless of whether you're pro- or anti-ratings.
A few thoughts:
- More than once, Coyne mentions that she'd like to see some sort of notation about "gratuitous" profanity. Later in the conversation, that gets extrapolated out to touch on violence and sexual content as well. My question, of course, is: who's to say what's "gratuitous"? It's a pretty obvious question, and was asked (I think) by both Alleyn and Karre, though I don't think it was ever answered. It was also pointed out that worldview/experience would drastically affect one's opinion on what is (or isn't) gratuitous.
- There was a male caller who expressed his support for book ratings... and he said he'd like to see those ratings include "immorality". No one ran with that, but holy cow, if "gratuitous" is murky, "immorality" is more nebulous than... well, something full of mondo-nebulosity.
- Andrew Karre (bless him) brought up the fact that ratings are inherently subjective. A point that was driven home by a (pro-ratings) caller who called in about a rape scene in a YA manga, and said, "That's a book that I would have wanted a warning on." Well, sure. Because it's a topic that upsets you. For that matter, it's one that upsets me, and quite often, I, personally avoid books that deal with it. (Sorry, Marbury Lens. And also Deerskin.) But in slapping a SEXUAL ASSAULT warning label on the back of the book, the book is suddenly defined and judged by that one event, rather than by the entirety of the story.
- Karre also questioned the logistics of who would do the ratings and how the system would work, which is hello, important. And wanted to know if only YA books would be rated, or if crossover books (like Alex winners) would be rated, too.
- And finally, thankfully, someone brought up the point that Tweak—the book that keeps getting batted around as being so rife with profanity—isn't a novel: it's a memoir. That was originally published for the adult market.
Anyway, like I said, just a few of my thoughts.
If you have the time, give it a listen for yourself.
But maybe try not to drive your office-mate away with all of your crazypants muttering.
Speaking of, I should go and tell her that it's safe to come back now.