So, today I’m cataloging retro titles. I came upon this book, Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat and after reading the NLS annotation my reaction was:
“Oh jeez, what?” and then, “Where is the ‘good lord, what the hell’” subject heading when you really need it?”
Then I looked up the title online to compare descriptions. This really does come down to the original purpose of this blog: NLS’s crazy, mixed up, misguided, and occasionally, FAR OUT annotations.
Until age twelve, Sophie is raised by her aunt in Haiti. Her mother then sends for her to come to New York and explains that Sophie is the product of rape. When a grown Sophie is befriended by an older musician, her mother tests her virginity. Sophie rebels by violently deflowering herself, an act that caused her to seek sexual phobia therapy. She marries the musician and tries to come to terms with her past as her mother does the same. Some violence.
Oh jeez, what the what? Pretty much the end of every sentence of this annotation is cringe-worthy. Rape. Virginity. Sexual phobia therapy. Haiti. And…only some violence? This is a book that contains, by description, a violent self deflowering and the best we can do is “some violence” but no, not even a little bit of “descriptions of sex,” explicit or otherwise? Uhhhhh.
So, like I said, I visited the internet to find out if its just me, or is this book weird (?). Turns out, it’s been an Oprah’s Book Club selection. I was like, “sensational, much?” But then I read the Amazon description from July 2003. Turns out, it’s not JUST a book about virginity verification and violent deflowering after all. Yay?
At the age of twelve, Sophie Caco is sent from her impoverished village of Croix-des-Rosets to New York, to be reunited with a mother she barely remembers. There she discovers secrets that no child should ever know, and a legacy of shame that can be healed only when she returns to Haiti–to the women who first reared her. What ensues is a passionate journey through a landscape charged with the supernatural and scarred by political violence, in a novel that bears witness to the traditions, suffering, and wisdom of an entire people.
When presented from this angle, the book seems downright interesting, engrossing, enlightening, and, dare I say, worth a read?
NLS, I realize that this is a very old annotation…1994 to be semi-exact. So, I’m not going to rail too hard. Let’s assume this annotation writer has moved on to other tasks at the NLS…director, deputy director, collection development…something innocuous that doesn’t put them in direct access to the books, or the humans, or writing PR copy. Uh oh.
Anyway, that is all. Now back to cataloging this backlog of 4 months and 2,000 titles.
Edited to say: Make that 3,000 and change.
A quick post in a new category I’m going to call, Good Lord; What the Hell? Mainly because when I read the annotation, I said, out loud, “good lord–what the hell?” From the NLS Annotation:
When Amy brings her ventriloquist dummy out to entertain her family on Sharing Night, its head falls off. Amy’s father finds another dummy in a pawn shop. But Amy soon realizes why the new dummy is called Slappy when it hits her father! As Slappy gets meaner and meaner, Amy’s family refuses to believe she is not responsible. For grades 4-7.
Some things are just not okay to write novels about. R.L. Stine’s Night of the Living Dummy II probably illustrates this rule completely. I have not read the book, having given up R.L. Stine books about 23 years ago.
For some reason (probably mild hysteria) I’m reading the exclamation point at the end of “…when it hits her father!” as comedic, as in LOL! that dummy just came to life! But that is just not possible as ventriloquist dummies are anything BUT funny, and are, in fact, the most terrifying subject that anyone could possibly come up with. Except maybe skittering babies. Okay, skittering babies are actually my number one fear in terms of the statistic possiblility of occurance. If a ventriloquist dummy tried to attack me I would do one of the following (preferably all):
- throw it into a fire
- kick it in the head and/or
- stomp on it
- separate its head from body, and then its limbs from said body, thus rendering it physically neutral
- dispose of it by sealing it in concrete
Now, let’s say that a skittering baby (SB) is coming right for you. First of all, it’s likely that you won’t even realize it because babies are very short and therefore very sneaky. Also, the lighting will probably be very dim or low because SBs tend to move faster in the dark. I think that when put in direct light, an SB will make a brief attempt at looking and acting “normal” in an attempt to lull you into a false sense of confidence. However, turning the lights on bright will only get you so far because as soon as you change your focus, an SB will attack. It’s proven. Any way. What can you do to survive a skittering baby attack? YOU CAN DO NOTHING!! Because they’re BABIES for goodness sake! What the hell! You can’t kick them, throw them into a fire, shoot them, stab them. You’re basically f*cked. The SB is going to bite the crap out of your feet, ankles, and calves and all you can do is just hop from foot to foot and try to stay upright. And, God help you if they are hunting in a pack. Wild Kingdom anyone?
Back to R.L. Stine’s masterpiece. According to Slappy the Dummy’s Wikipedia article, this evil doll makes appearances in NINE books for kids. You know, in my day, we didn’t need to go to the well 9 times before we knew that shit was poison. We watched the Twilight Zone’s season 5, episode 29 Caeser and Me ONCE and that was enough. Nine books of Slappy getting meaner and meaner? Good lord, what the hell?