WASHINGTON, DC–Huckleberry Finn, Slaughterhouse Five, and The Catcher In The Rye are just a few of the many banned books to which U.S. teens are reacting with disappointment, the American Library Association reported Monday.
"I was really psyched to read Huck Finn when my English teacher told me it was banned, because I figured, you know, it would be dirty," said Joshua Appel, a sophomore at Rocky Mount (VA) High School and one of 14,000 teenagers recently surveyed by the ALA. "But it was totally lame: There was no sex or violence or anything. They say 'nigger' in it, but I can hear that on half my CDs."
Thousands of similarly underwhelming experiences have been reported. Among the banned works of literature which students have failed to find sufficiently prurient, profane, or violent: Maya Angelou's I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, John Steinbeck's The Grapes Of Wrath, Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years Of Solitude.
"I mean, how fucking boring can you get?" said Clovis (NM) High School junior Richard Booth, who made a special trip to the mall to buy a copy of John Knowles' A Separate Peace upon discovering that his school had banned the novel for "inappropriate language, graphic violence, and representation of non-traditional values." "The swears weren't that great, and the violence was just a guy breaking his leg. I thought maybe the non-traditional-values thing meant that maybe the guys in the dorm were, like, doing each other up the ass, but all they did was talk, talk, talk."
"The only reason to ban this book is because it's full of preppy crap," Booth added.
In a letter sent to the ALA, the American Association Of High-School Students cited its members' other complaints with banned books, including: the monster in John Garner's Grendel isn't scary at all and doesn't even act like a monster; William Golding's Lord Of The Flies is not actually about a mutant insect man who can control the world's flies with his mental powers; and there is no reason to read Stephen King's Cujo when you can see it on cable 24 hours a day; plus, it's not that good, anyway.
"Desensitized to sex and violence from an early age, today's teens simply expect more out of their banned books than previous generations," said Naomi Gould, director of the D.C.-based National Education Consortium. "For the teens of yesteryear, access to novels like Tropic Of Cancer, Portnoy's Complaint, and Lady Chatterley's Lover was an incredible, once-in-a-lifetime thrill. But for teens raised on Cinemax and Def Comedy Jam, it just doesn't cut it."
Matt Kornreich, a sophomore at Hialeah (FL) High School, agreed. "It's just a big tease," he said. "If I want porn, I'll go get some porn. And if I want to, like, be intellectually stimulated... Yeah, right."