04 October 2007

Booking Through Thursday: Decorum

Do you have “issues” with too much profanity or overly explicit (ahem) “romantic” scenes in books? Or do you take them in stride? Have issues like these ever caused you to close a book? Or do you go looking for more exactly like them? (grin)
I’m going to give this one a qualified no. It has to fit with that plot and those characters, and not be over the top. In fact, I think there are times when squeaky cleanness might seem unnatural. But I do have my limits; I don’t read erotica and I’m not sure how I’d go reading a book that was excessively heavy on the profanity. The second caveat is that, while sex and swearing don’t trouble me if I’m quietly reading to myself, I would never read such content aloud to someone else. Okay, so that’s not something I ever have cause to do - anymore. However, I once had a nasty clash with an English teacher on this topic. She expected us to form groups and act out scenes from David Williamson’s consistently foul-mouthed play The Removalists. And having been strictly brought up never to swear, I refused point-blank. I was obliged to call in the support of my mother, who did manage to get the teacher to back down. Apparently in capitulation she professed her admiration of me for sticking to my principles; but she never said anything like that to me, and didn’t make any effort not to make me feel like ... well, crap.

(Yes, household standards have slipped a little since then. But not that much.)


Stephanie said...

I really don't mind anything in a book as long as it adds value to the story. I've never put down a book because I was offended by something.

Nice answer!!

Chris said...

That's a rotten teacher!

Bookfool said...

Wow, a teacher like that would get an earful from me (as the mother).

I see you're reading an old favorite of mine, The Maltese Falcon. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

gautami tripathy said...

When I started reading romance novels way back in school, we used to read those scenes aloud and giggle. But back then those were definitely not steamy nor profane!

pussreboots said...

I was a film major and had to watch a few eye opening films. That's the closest I've come to your experience. Happy BTT.

Literary Feline said...

I have trouble typing a profane word. :-) I have, but it didn't come out easily.

I"m with you though. I think that the language and behavior in books should match the plot and characters. It doesn't really work for me otherwise.

J.S. Peyton said...

Diddo what Stephanie said - I've never put down a book because I was offended by the language. I will however put it down if I feel it's gratuitous. Case in point: Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake series. I stopped reading the series when the sex scenes stopped furthering the plot, and began to be the plot. Which isn't bad either if that's what you're looking for. But when I started reading the series I didn't sign up for paranormal porn, and it wasn't what it was in the beginning.

CoversGirl said...

Stephanie: Whether something adds to the book is definitely the key point. And thinking about it now, the thing I'm most likely to be offended by in a book is a completely brainless character!

Chris: She was! On another occasion, she threw a guy out of the classroom for using the term "jerry-built" on the grounds that it was racist. Huh? I can only assume she was thinking of the use of "jerry" as a generic term for a German - and that she didn't know, as I later discovered, that the term well predated both world wars. (Apparently Jerry was the proprietor of a shoddy consturction company.)

Bookfool: I am adoring The Maltese Falcon!

Gautami: Times change, don't they? At my high school we didn't giggle over books - just over what certain of the other students were rumoured to have done!

PussReboots: I can relate to that, too: my Year 11 Psychology teacher made us watch A Clockwork Orange. I can't remember why, but I do remember finding it quite distasteful.

Literary Feline: Typing I can manage, within limits. But saying aloud with anyone else within earshot? I'm not sure I'll ever do that.

J.S.: I've given up on that series too. I got to the point where I was thinking, just get on with the plot . . . a plot . . . any plot! Someone must still be reading them, because she keeps producing more.

cj said...

Missed you on Thursday but I'm glad I caught up with you today. I'm with bookfool - a teacher like that would've ended up wishing she was anywhere else but talking to me. Good for both you and your mother!


Aarti said...

Hmm- I don't think I've ever put down a book for profanity or "steaminess." But I did stop reading a book once because I thought it was appallingly, blatantly racist in its approach. I don't know why this particular book bothered me so much- it isn't like racism isn't prevalent in many books. But for some reason, One Thousand White Women hit a nerve and I could NOT finish it.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Oh! You're reading such wonderful books right now! And I did put down "Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife" because of the absolutely ridiculous amount of pointless sex scenes. I felt like the Darcy's were insulted by the book.

Nithin said...

Too much profanity in books hasn't ever really bothered me. (At least not enough to make me stop reading.) I've just finished reading Nineteen Seventy Four by David Peace and I can't imagine a book that is more loaded with profanity than that one.

As far as explicit content is concerned, I did in fact put down one book for that reason -- Until I Find You by John Irving. After reading about 200 of the 1000+ pages of the book, all I could find was a lot of stuff about the sexual abuse of a little boy and not a hint of a plot anywhere. That's the only time I remember stopping a book midway for any reason.

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