Thursday, July 2, 2009

An Interesting Discussion

I can't remember how I found out about this book, but it sounded interesting, so I got it at the library, started reading it and found it easy and funny. I was relaxing into a nice "read". Then things went awry. I was so disturbed, I decided to write to the author and let her know. (Can you believe it!) Here is a copy of our exchanged e-mails:

Dear Megan,

I discovered your book and was excited to read it. I had heard it was good!

I started reading it right after I read a non-fiction about climbing Mt. Everest. It was nice to read something easy and fun.

Not too far into it, I read a profane word. I kept reading thinking it would not come up again. By page 43, I could not read anymore for all the foul language. Really, we are a family of readers, and anyone could have picked up the book, opened a page and started reading at any time. I would have been embarrassed for any of my children to see that I was reading a book with that language.

It doesn't help the story or the characters...unless you wanted the characters to be that sort to speak that way; in that case, I have no interest in reading that story. I feel language is a real "tell" in a person. I would not want to have a conversation with someone who uses that kind of language. It really means something, it does matter. We certainly don't purposely teach our little 2 year olds how to swear; it's not right.

I am one of those that feels that it is not right for anyone. There are many really great words out there to use; why sink to the foul.

I feel bad, it seems like a funny enjoyable read. Please consider not using foul language in your future books. I think that would only help; you could certainly count me in as a reader then.

Julie Cole

Then I got this response:


You're right. My style is not for everyone. But for the record: I
never use foul language in my books for shock value. It's always in
keeping with the characters I'm writing about and their points of
view. Twentysomething men and women say the words in my book. To not
write in the real language that real people use wouldn't be authentic.

I personally don't fill my everyday conversation with F-bombs and the
like. I have a six year old son and I very much believe in leading by
example. To be honest, there have been more than a few times when I've
had my characters say and do things that make me cringe because I
would NEVER say or do these things myself. But as I said, I feel like
these narrative choices are an accurate reflection of contemporary
culture as it really is, not as people wish it to be.

I don't regret what I wrote, but I'm sorry that you were too offended
by the words to enjoy the story.


I was glad she wrote back. I think the conversation is interesting. Not sure if I should write her back or not, but I would ask her if it makes the world a better place to sink to the lowest level, whether that's how the people talk or not. Wouldn't it be a better place if we all reached higher. I think that if a book has no swearing the people wouldn't write and say, "hey where is all that foul language, I missed it!"


Emily said...

good for you for speaking up!

Nana said...

Julie, you should send your last paragraph on the blog to her. That was a great thing to say. And, also, what about the classic books, Les Miserables, The Scarlet Letter, Madame Bovary, even Moby Dick - about the sailor life!! They don't contain the foul language we hear today, and yet, they were written as real and believable.

Elizabeth said...

Hmm. Well I'm not sure why she is flattering herself into thinking that she is somehow different from the rest of society because most people swear like a sailor and she doesn't. Sounds pretty juvenile to me!

GBART said...

I am proud that you spoke up