I have read books in my life that I enjoyed, and promptly forgot. I have read books where I wandered off in the middle and forgot to come back again. I have read books which touched the core of my being, changed me, and I was never able to re-read again, they were terrible in their beauty. And I have read books that utterly revolted me. Some were merely indefinably ‘icky’ while others had me standing in a hot shower, washing to try and remove the feeling it had given me.
It isn’t always the author. Some authors have imaginations where you don’t think that you are seeing through the book and into the author’s soul. And I’m the last person to suggest that just because I find a work repugnant, no one else should ever read them. I do have authors I cannot and will not read again. Margaret Atwood’s Handmaids Tale was nasty and made me sick to my soul. I will never read another book of hers, nor of Charlie Stross, whose graphic depiction of male rape in a short story collection left me scrubbing in the shower, hoping to remove that feeling. I cannot read Piers Anthony, not even his frothy inconsequential Xanth books, because his book Firefly revolted me and struck too close to home, to violation of innocence and the depiction of the ultimate evil.
But I’m not going to tell anyone not to read those authors. I gave my kids the first couple of Xanth books, because they are fun. In fact, I’m not telling anyone in this post not to read books by these authors. I’m asking you to examine the public actions and decide if
these are people who ought to be celebrated in our field and held up as examples. Particularly, I might point out, that they are held up as examples of gender and sexual openness. I know quite well that not all who are homosexual are also child abusers. But if you’re holding these people up? You’re fostering that perception, because these are not role models. These are the ultimate evil, the abusers of children, and those who enable those abuses to continue in the shadows, denied and ignored. Will you let that go on, or will you join me in illuminating the dark corners of our art to see what scuttles for hiding?