Dame Jacqueline Wilson’s children’s book My Sister Jodie is apparently having an ‘offensive’ term removed from all future editions, on the basis of one person’s complaint to a supermarket. ONE. One person, who overrules the author, the editor, the multiple people who will have already discussed whether that word can be included before publication of a book that’s sold 28,000 copies in Asda alone, prior to that ONE complaint. What an excellent lesson to teach young readers on the logic and fairness of the adult world.
The term in question can be amended to ‘twit’ with the adjustment of a single letter, so no prizes for figuring it out. I wouldn’t want to repeat it here, naturally, what with it being so very filthy – though I’m amused that the two are supposedly interchangeable. Roald Dahl’s The Twits has taken on a whole new meaning – a book which, incidentally contains worm-eating, the cruel misuse of superglue, and ‘bare bottoms winking in the sun’, a phrase which has stayed with me across decades. Won’t somebody think of the children?
I happen to think swearing is both big and clever – when you do it right. There’s a single magnificent use of the ‘c’ word in Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (crossover, true, but absolutely something I’d give to a bright 10-year-old) which made the book for me. Christopher’s Asperger’s syndrome denies him emotional articulacy, but the casually brutal adults around him have no such excuse: it’s a powerful moment, cementing our sympathy and understanding of his actually very reasonable incomprehension of our world. Wilson puts ‘tw*t’ (honestly, how hilarious does that look?) into the mouth of an unpleasant, unempathetic antagonist. Humbert Humbert’s a great big perv. Raskolnikov kills. It’s called characterisation. Or is children’s literature not allowed to have that particular grown-up toy?
Holiday = books! Oh, I’ve missed you. Selected to be as unrelated to Girl Meets Cake as possible, and thus the fabulously eclectic mix of Silence by Josie Henley-Einion (debut literary thriller from a dear old mate, and a cracking read: pacy page-turner, challenging erotica, and above all a truly compelling character study of one woman searching for a coherent social, racial, gendered identity across decades), Death and the Penguin by Andrey Kurkov (recommended by M the Wonderagent with typical wisdom: dark, funny, gorgeously economical prose, killer ending, and A PENGUIN), and Italo Calvino’s The Castle of Crossed Destinies (your common-or-garden Calvino mindmelt: a musing on the nature of stories, and storytellers, beautiful and strange).
Girl Meets Cake might currently be titled Woman Meets Caffeine. I look forward to the forthcoming Writer Meets Deadline more than you can possibly know.
Trucking around Pompeii in the blazing sunshine; discovering my niece has proven her super-brainiac status for good; becoming an auntie x 6 (Writer Meets Nephew next week!); realising that solo holidays are only fun until you’ve found a snack product with the face of Rolf Harris, and you have no one with whom to share him.