Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Dirty Literature and My Inability to Use Transitions

The movie version of The Namesake just opened and being that the novel by Jhumpa Lahiri (a Barnard grad for what it's worth) is one of my all-time favorite books I am really excited to see the movie. I liked the book so much that I censored it so that a certain special someone would be willing to read it. That's right, censored it. With a black marker. Which, is really not my speed. And the book is not very dirty at all. Really. But it still took some serious magic marker action to clean it up.

I really liked this profile of Gregory Maguire, the author of Wicked (a book I was less-than-impressed with). I especially liked the beginning when he is telling kids they shouldn't be reading the book, which is, um, not quite rated G. (The musical, though, is much cleaner and much better and I might just see it again this weekend with a different certain special someone who is coming to New York to visit me. And who I am really excited to see!)

I saw The Queen last week, expecting an at-least-decent movie, seeing as Helen Mirren did win an Oscar for it. I was more bored than enamored with it. But I will say for it that it was clean. Really, the cleanest movie I can remember seeing in quite some time with the exception possibly of Charlotte's Web.

I was watching Matilda recently with another certain special someone (who is special despite the fact that she doesn't have a link), and there's a scene where a 4-year-old Matilda is bringing home a whole wagon-full of novels from the library. My friend wanted to know what the books were but you couldn't tell. To which I responded that they probably couldn't find that many appropriate novels for a little kid to be reading.

I've heard plenty of people lament the fact that so much of literature is dirty. And I've also seen the less-than-impressive "kosher" alternatives. Can books not be good unless they contain things that a good frum girl should not be reading about? Would people not read novels if they didn't contain not-so-nice stuff? Can the frum community for whatever reason not produce a good novelist? Do you have to be willing to read about stuff that you're not necessarily comfortable with in order to read literature? I'm afraid that I've become too comfortable with it.


At 3/13/07, 4:27 PM, Blogger SaraK said...

I can probably count on one hand the number of frum novels that I have found worth reading. I guess I have also become desensitized to the inappropriate parts of the better literature out there. But that is what sells, apparently.

At 3/13/07, 8:00 PM, Blogger Eli7 said...

Right. But does it need to be there to make good literature (and hence no good "kosher" alternatives) or does it need to be there to sell good literature?

At 3/14/07, 11:05 AM, Blogger SaraK said...

Well, publishers want sales, don't they?

At 3/16/07, 11:03 AM, Blogger Scraps said...

I think it's more about the selling good literature than making good literature. I know of someone who tried to get published but couldn't because they wouldn't insert a sex scene. Certain genres can get away with a lack of "dirty" stuff because they have a prissier rep (like fantasy), but in general, it's hard because--as sarak said--publishers want sales. And guess what sells?

At 3/16/07, 11:05 AM, Blogger Scraps said...

Oh, and I agree, most of the "kosher" alternatives are awful. They're badly-written (or badly translated, in some cases), overwrought, with implausible plots that all end the same way. They'll do if there's nothing else worth reading, but I usually find myself rolling my eyes throughout.

At 4/2/07, 7:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good books aren't ever going to be clean because life isn't clean. Great works of writing are great because they tell us something about what the world is really like. They don't sugarcoat things the way religion does. For better or worse, orthodox judaism and "frumkeit" priorotize ideals and unattainable perfection over cold, hard reality. These ideals may be good in theory, when used a sort of general guide for our lives, but they make for crappy crappy literature.


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