No Surprises, Please – Illu Frito

Yes, you are such a pretty boy.

We discussed this in an earlier post about ‘Eraserhead.’ I don’t like surprises. I’ve got a week constitution–for months, nay years, after I saw ‘The Ring’, I couldn’t even begin to approach the bathroom in the dark. The theme of this week’s ‘Illu Frito’ is ‘Suspense,’ exactly that which I don’t like. Not suspense on the screen and not suspense in my life.

But suspense has my fucking phone number! (Don’t know how he got it, even I don’t know my phone number!) This has been a very suspenseful week or two.

Right now, my book is being reviewed and considered for possible material at a teaching conference. (Is it okay to talk about this stuff in a public place? Gee, I hope so.) Well, I’m not saying anything bad or particularly revealing and even if I am not picked, I am already honored at being considered, no hard feelings, but to be perfectly honest, the suspense is starting to kill me. If I’m picked, I get to go to Las Vegas this fall. =) Every day that I don’t hear back from the lady who probably has a billion other concerns on her plate, I tell myself: God, your book is too (insert a May shower of disparaging adjectives here).

I’m doing a telephone interview with another lady next week. (!!) I get three minutes to talk about why I wrote about what I wrote about and why I picked my media. It’s being recorded and I hope I don’t screw up. They sent me a sample audio, so I have an idea of what and how to talk. It was the lady who wrote Persepolis (the graphic novel.) I was like Holy Shit, I’m doing an interview and being put into the same data base as the lady who wrote Persepolis!!!

Is this real life? (No, this is the internet :D)

I got into an argument with my mom today because some distributor, after ordering a fuckton of my book, decided to actually crack it open and LOOK at the damn thing and they decided it was too profane. So they want to send the whole shipment back to my publisher. (Again, don’t want to give TMI on the internets, so that’s all I’ll say.)  I told my mom that was ridiculous–she said if I don’t want to be censured, I should start writing about ‘nice’ things. Her argument:

‘Victor Hugo didn’t need all that foul language to write his wonderful books.’

‘Victor HUGO,’ I shot back. “Was probably also lambasted for writing about child prostitutes, hunch-backs, beggars, sewers, poverty, riffraff and jailbait when there were all these society ladies sitting around in their parlors in white gloves, aching to be immortalized!”

Then we got into an argument (sort of) about being gay, which was also a lose-lose situation.

“If you have the right to write your controversial opinion,’ she says, ‘others have the right to try to stop you from expressing it.’

‘But I am not FORCING anybody to read what I have written. I am simply making it available. They, however, are trying to force people to NOT read it, by making it less readily available. Doesn’t that make them wrong?”

Not in the eyes of my mum.

Am I wrong?
Am I the asshole?
Sometimes, talking to my mom makes me feel like a really big asshole.




24 responses to “No Surprises, Please – Illu Frito

  1. No you’re not an asshole.
    As great as your mom is, she’s just stuck in the last century about a couple of issues. Her hypocrisy about swearing is just one prime example.

    OK…. ‘others have the right to try to stop you from expressing it.’ made me so angry that I wrote a huge rant here that I deleted just now. That line could be straight out of a bigot rhetoric handbook. Congratulations. You’ve set foot on the slippery slope. Enjoy your ride and hope that you never have to worry about being on the receiving end of that line, however twisted it may be.

    And also? People swear. People have sex. This happens in high school, too. It happens in real life. Since when did portraying something out of real life become so wrong?

    Sometimes I wish *those* people would just go blowjob a cactus.

    • Dear Juno–

      Thanks for your support =) Don’t get mad at my mom ^^ I know, oh, I don’t know. Sometimes, I get very mad too. I guess I just don’t understand her viewpoint. That’s fine, not being able to understand someone. She doesn’t understand mine. I guess my problem is that I feel like I’m saying something positive… so someone trying to stop that is inherently wrong. After all, I am not out to change anyone’s mind. I just want people who are like ‘this’ (like what? Me?) to know that it’s not bad?

    • “Sometimes I wish *those* people would just go blowjob a cactus.”

      that would make a great drawing

  2. well, your mom is your mom. Its a little old school and I’ve heard it from many parents before. Just appreciate that she even cares but keep her opinions or professional advice at bay, its your writing, its your future, its your career, not hers. You dont have to answer to anyone.You have to keep on doing what you are doing, these kinds of situations– its just noise – shut it out. That distributor? I would expose them, I’d be doing the consumer a huge favour! I didnt realise that censorship was so stringent in the States–over a couple of swear words? What was it, a christian bookstore or something? Anyway, ALL NOISE. That book is something positive its obvious from all the attention, good or bad! PLUS, you can look at this as being extremely positive for you; you are going to get even more attention now because some overly righteous distributor is adding to the “controversy” factor in your book :D Remember Catcher in the Rye, Anne Frank’s Diary, The Color Purple…all books banned or censored for either profanity or sexual explicitness o_o !

  3. Think of all the lost kids you are helping moof…think of them.

    • Thanks P– =)
      That’s one thing I don’t get. So far as I know, they are a ‘library distributor’ (not quite sure what that is, but I imagine it’s a middleman between publishers and libraries.) It’s like… well the American *%&# Library Association has deemed this book to have ‘literary merit’ … so what do YOU care?? It’s one thing of course if an individual bookseller decides that this material is not something they want to carry in their store… But a distributor? I was like wtf^2 when I got that letter from my publisher…

  4. Your argument is totally correct, but your Mom’s argument is such a Mom’s argument! I love it. Cracked me up. Fingers crossed about the distributor and the interview and all the jazz. i’m sure it’ll go swimmingly.

  5. AND they went out of their way to tell my pub that it wasn’t the sex that bugged them (I bet they were scared of getting slapped with some anti-gay lawsuit or something :D) No, not the sex, it was the ‘profanity’.
    Well fuck me sideways and call me Tom…

    • thats pretty interesting though, what if, (IF) you censored the profanity? As an experiment say, because the profanity gives them a loop-hole out. (which is ridiculous in itself, just look at the stuff on TV or talk to someone)

      • That was actually another aspect of our argument. I told my mom I would completely understand if EVERY character in the book (or my stories in general) had a foul mouth. Then, the language loses the meaning and it becomes filler. But in the case of this book for example, the way the female character talks is important to her identity….of course I could change it, but her whole character would change. She’s SUPPOSED to be repelling…

  6. That makes sense, I don’t think you should do that. But I meant censoring in the lamest purely ‘for-your-benefit’ kind of way, not re-writing the characters lines.
    But like writing ‘f**k’ – which in itself is madness. Like removing the vowels makes a bad word suddenly lose its power, like superman and kryptonite. Because you know it’s fuck, & everyone who reads it reads it as fuck – But for some reason that is more acceptable.

    Would that work? Or is their excuse of profanity really just a cover to reject it on other grounds i.e. morality, religion etc

  7. Great image, love the darks, the liquid eyes, and the context – makes me uneasy. Which I enjoy, in the context of this image, but not in general. If I can add my mite to the discussion, I’d say that offering an opinion as to a work’s “literary merit” the library association suggests folks look for it and puts it high on the scale above mediocrity and mere profanity for the sake of profanity. That’s the touchstone. Probably got voted there by a panel of folks who read a lot, and want to recommend the work. On this basis someone ordered a box or two or three but hadn’t read it. Once they SAW it, perhaps it made them uneasy (especially if it concerned or was directed at teens) – what if someone complains? What if they get in the middle of a controversy about spending? What if the uneasy feeling they have about the content trickles down into their regular life? Like Pandora, they wanted to slam the box shut as if it had never been opened – so they sent it back to your publisher. And yeah, treated right, this could be good news. Similar stories keep unfolding. Good luck with the interview!

    • A newcomer! =)
      Thanks for your thoughtful comment =)
      Honestly, I think that’s the problem too–being pushed out of one’s comfort zone and not ‘profanity’, as the book’s language is no worse than say ‘Ghost World’ (which is a graphic novel readily available everywhere, so far as I know, and is not particularly controversial.) In another interview with someone, I said that I did not initially write this book with a teen audience in mind, but for anyone. However, what happens in it is applicable, I believe, to ‘real’ teenage life. Some teenagers do have sex. They become mixed up in dangerous situations. And severe bullying does happen in schools, though people don’t want to talk about it. Just last year (after I had wrapped up my book) I was shocked and saddened to randomly find an article online about a gay teen who shares the same name as my book’s protagonist (Asher). Asher Brown killed himself at the age of THIRTEEN because he was harassed at school for being gay….

      The world is often a sad and violent place, even if you are young (especially if you are young?) However, there is also redemption and you can find allies… that is what my book is about… hope?

  8. I think you’re right Moof, people don’t want to face what is out of their comfort zone, so it’s easier to pack it in a box and hide it away. It’s not helpful. I have the utmost of respect for your motivation and openness. And your amazing talent. You are right to trust your own instincts and intuition. Keep at it.

    It seems to me the particular country you’re talking about is very okay with gratuitous violence for some reason, but sexuality is another thing…I don’t get it.

  9. I like but so confused ;)

  10. Oh am I late for the fest? :-(
    I guess I missed the opening of the “Main dish” (link related:

    Ok now joke aside! ‘others have the right to try to stop you from expressing it.’ is totally illogical in that context. No one has the right to stop you from expressing yourself. On the other hand, “They, however, are trying to force people to NOT read it, by making it less readily available” is also an incorrect statement. “forcing people NOT to read it” sounds like an active act of prevention, whereas, by your description of what happened, it sounds like they just decided that they don’t want your book in their assortment anymore. It’s a bitch that the fucker, who made the order in the first place, was not smart enough to even check out what he/she is buying.

    Don’t let the mistakes of others be the reason behind your negative feelings.

    Here’s a coupon for you, to make you feel bettah!

    Hans Off

    • Well, the thing is… I would agree w/ you if it was a bookseller. Because then, I think you do have the right to say “I don’t want to offer this in my assortment of books.’ But this was a library wholesaler (someone who sells books to libraries when they want them). Since the libraries make the individual decision to carry a book or not… wtf is a middleman distributor getting involved in it for? Was my question… or am I still being illogical?? You can tell me, Hansoff. I trust you <3

      • I don’t know how libraries work, but I would like to believe, that they have more than one supply chain of books. In other words: they can get their books from more than one wholesale supplier. This makes them, from a business model point of view, just the same as any end user who buys his/her goods on the street (with the exception of the quantity and price, maybe). If this is the case, the decision to offer a book in the library, comes from the management of the library itself, and not the wholesale supplier that offers it.
        This, unfortunately, means that the supplier is still free to choose his assortment to his own logic (however fucked up it may be).

        I’d say that the only way to overcome your current obstacle would be to aim at another wholesale supplier, who might not mind the content of the book, or libraries, except if they are extremely religious libraries that would call you a heretic and demand you be burned for your sins! The difference between who you aim for, is the quantity. Wholesales will, probably, buy a higher quantity, while a library will, depending on the demand on that book, be aiming for less quantity.

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