Second Look

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I’d like to think that after all this time, my list of “Things I Should Know By Now” would be much shorter, but it isn’t. Worst of all, I know I shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, so to speak, but I do. I admit it. My earliest memory of making judgements was when Dear Old Dad (a furry, well-inked Harley owner) took me to meet some of his friends (also furry, well-inked Harley owners). These were scary-looking men! Being a child, I was shy until the biggest and scariest of them all pulled two suckers out of the pocket of his leather vest. One for him, one for me. I sat on daddy’s bike* with my new sucker and listened to them all talk. Somehow, there weren’t scary anymore. Despite the facial hair and leather galore, I can still say these people were some of the most decent souls I’ve ever come across. The point is that I should have known better; even teddy bears have to act tough sometimes.

 My most recent lesson in thinking twice was based upon a recommendation from a close friend. I was told to read Firefly by Piers Anthony. I read a ways into it and was appalled by what I read, but I have to get my own words out before I read the reviews of others. This probably won’t end up being laid out as well as I wish it to be, so please be patient, dear reader.

When I began reading Firefly, it didn’t take long for me to pick up on the fact that it is best labeled as a rather explicit sci-fi novel. As I read on, it became more and more vulgar, leading me to question why this was on a High School Library’s shelves, but To Kill a Mockingbird was once banned. I was disgusted with the content, the plot and the author. All I could tell myself was this is trash! I feel that you don’t get the volume of this, so I’ll be perfectly blunt. Firefly depicts detailed scenes of rape, sodomy, and the molestation of a five-year-old. Re-read that sentence. Let it sink in.  Now… WHY would anyone write about this? I was thinking the same thing for a long time, and it took me a long time to find an answer. Here is why, ladies and gentlemen: because it happens.

 I’m not trying to defend Piers Anthony on any level, but I do have a better understanding of the book and the world. This is the most effective way to speak out against sexual crimes, and this is why it remains on shelves. People read about Little Nymph and Maddock and want to scream, vomit, burn the book, burn the author . . . which is exactly the kind of reaction I’d want, were I wishing to get a message out. I’m sure Anthony gets hundreds of letters every day saying “this is terrible!” and I’m sure he sends responses of “Yes, it is terrible, isn’t it? Wouldn’t you like to stop  such things from happening?” I haven’t decided if Anthony has my respect for that, yet.

 I’ve done my fair share of research on it since, and word on the ‘Net is that Firefly is not only hard to find, but hard to stomach. Comments have ranged from “Never have I ever seen such blatant abuse of the exclamation point in all my years of reading. . . did not enjoy this book and since I believe in finishing what I start, upon completion of this travesty, I promptly tossed it in the garbage. . . I found that the tone was much too sympathetic towards pedophiles. ” to “Those people who gave this book a bad review missed the entire point of the novel. He is bringing into light a topic that often gets swept under the rug even today. I am glad that we live in a country where we can write about whatever we choose to write about.’

 Books aren’t evil. I should have known this! It isn’t a bad book, it is just misinterpreted and inappropriate for some readers. Yes, I am thankful that it is on the shelves because Anthony’s book has taken away my reason for ignoring parts of life that aren’t pretty.

Let me say this again: This is NOT a book for children or those with a closed mind. It is like no book I’ve ever read, and I don’t think I ever want to again. I haven’t finished this book and I don’t think I will.


*NOTE: I did not have a normal childhood.

Published in: on February 9, 2008 at 9:34 am  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. I feel compelled to comment, about the book Firefly, as your post set off many alarms. This book was donated, to our library, with hundreds of other books – obviously, it needs to be scrutinized. I’d like to respond to your comment
    “leading me to question why this was on a High School Library’s shelves, but To Kill a Mockingbird was once banned…”
    Books have to be evaluated everyday, and a decision to remove one from a shelf is not, in and of itself, banning a book. Some books are of more value and more appropriate for different audiences, specifically age and/or maturity level. Based on your comments, as a well-read and astute reader, perhaps this one should not be on a high school library shelf. Careful thought has to be given to books and their intrinsic value on a school bookshelf – if they don’t pass the test, they should reside elsewhere. Not banned, not burned… but made available to a different audience.

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