Welcome to Banned Book Week.
Let’s celebrate a few books which have been deemed unfit for human consumption. The Catcher In The Rye (J.D. Salinger). The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck). To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee), Catch-22 (Joseph Heller). The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins), Harry Potter — the entire series (J.K. Rowling). The Perks Of Being A Wallflower (Stephen Chbosky).
Each of these works has been labeled A Threat. The issues that offend people include sex, drugs, religion, values. A club will always exist whose members decide that if a book contains material that makes them uncomfortable, then the solution lies in a two-pronged attack. First, condemn the book as evil. Second, make it go away.
The Fifty Shades trilogy (E.L. James) has also been banned. I’ve read the second and third books. I’m told that I made a mistake – that the first is a good piece of writing (I wouldn’t know) and that the second and third aren’t (I’d agree and disagree). When I tell people I’ve read these books, they often express surprise that I’d admit it (which I find interesting and amusing). But they’re more surprised by my reaction. I think E.L. James is extremely talented at describing sex and sexual situations; any good writing is difficult, and as an author, I respect her talent tremendously. My problem is her portrayal of a psychotherapist who glaringly lacks boundaries and ethics. The doctor “bids” on his patient’s girlfriend at a fundraiser and literally buys her for a dance. He regularly attends social events hosted by the patient’s family. He accepts a referral from his patient, and then discusses one patient with another.
As a therapist who practiced for over 25 years before becoming an author, I dealt with the stigma on a regular basis. I’m angered by a book which feeds the stereotype, and worsens the problem. However, I would never suggest banning the trilogy. If I don’t like the books, I can choose not to read them, or not to recommend them. Even though I strongly believe that E.L. James promotes a damaging stereotype, I would stand with her, just as I would stand with other banned authors whose values I fully support.
As a novelist, I’m extremely aware that “Author” and “Universal Popularity” do not belong in the same sentence. If my book were ever placed on a “Banned List” I’d be honored to be affiliated with the writers in this eclectic group.
I would love my novel to be banned.
Novels By Amy Kaufman Burk
Hollywood High: Achieve The Honorable
Caroline Black, 15 years old, leaves her college prep academy for the local public high school, which opens her world. Written in reaction to witnessing gay students bullied in high school.
Caroline Black, a rookie psychology intern, goes through one year of training, working with her first patient – a young man who is stormy, seductive and complex. Written in support of sexual assault survivors, in support of same-sex parents, and as a voice against the stigma of therapy.