It’s a Gosh Darn Good Book

Meridian, Idaho

I’ve come to love Idaho. It’s beauty, it’s wilderness, it’s people.

But sometimes Idahoans surprise me.

Case in point:

A school district in northern Idaho is thinking about banning John Steinbeck’s novella Of Mice and Men from its curriculum.

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Of Mice and Men is a novella written by Nobel Prize–winning author John Steinbeck. Published in 1937, it tells the story of George Milton and Lennie Small, two displaced migrant ranch workers, who move from place to place in search of new job opportunities during the Great Depression in California. (Wikipedia)

The novella is required reading in many schools, and, because its language is raw, graphic, and now considered racist, some want the book banned from curriculum and/or removed from school libraries.

At first I was incredulous as I read about the potential banning in the Los Angeles Times; then as I read further, I actually giggled out loud.

Mary Jo Finney, a parent who has previously raised objections about books in the school district’s curriculum, declared that the book “is neither a quality story nor a page turner.” She and other committee members have a problem with coarse language in the book, such as “bastard” and “God damn,” and allege that “the teachers actually had the audacity to have students read these profanities out loud in class.” They also complained that the novel, set in Depression-era California, is too “negative” and “dark.”

To call a Steinbeck story non-quality seems absurd to me, but I must confess that his East of Eden is the best book I’ve ever read so I’m a bit biased.

And to call a book about The Depression as too “negative” and “dark” just makes me want to answer, “Duh!”

Dave Eubanks, a nonvoting committee member, supports the recommendation. “Nobody’s banning books or burning books, he told the Spokesman-Review. “There was just too darn much cussing. It was on almost every single page of the novella.”

If the reviewers think the book has  “just too darn much cussing”, then how can they grasp 14 year olds hearing (and/or saying) even stronger words that are said multiple times on the bus ride to school, in the lunch room, and on television every night. Words a lot more profane than bastard and God damn.

Heaven forbid! 🙂

Using the strongest words allowed by the reviewers, I’ll claim that Of Mice and Men is a gosh darn good book.

Raw? Yes. Disturbing? Yes. Profane? Yes. Honest? Yes. An appropriate read in high school? Yes. A better read as an adult? Yes.