A Literary Survey

A Geezer’s Notebook, By Jim Foster

Another loony demand for censorship has set the literary world in a tizzy. To be honest I don’t know what a tizzy is or how one gets into one should a person want to, or why; and once they are in there what they are supposed to do to pass the time. I suppose they can always redecorate. Quite frankly the wives will have to do the redecorating because when it comes to redecorating tizzies all a man is good for is moving the couch.

An irate reader of the Toronto Star demanded a while back that Dr. Seuss’s classic book, Hop on Pop, be banned from the Toronto Public Library system. Well I say, “Good for you, irate reader. The world needs a few more caring fruitcakes like you.”        

The complainant (the article doesn’t say if it was a man-cake or a woman-cake) wants the book trashed for allegedly pushing young children to use violence against their fathers. He or she may be right. There are no statistics on the situation I am aware of, but then I’m not aware of very much.

Now I don’t know what the average age of a Hop on Pop groupie is, but I would imagine they would be somewhere in a range from two-and-a-half-years old to thirty-five or forty at the other end, about the same as fans of zombie movies, people who wear baseball hats backwards even in restaurants with table cloths, and friends of Doug Ford. You can bet your boots the Cat in the Hat didn’t wear his backwards and let’s face it – he was weird, just not that weird.

The editor wasn’t sure if the reader was serious or not. It’s hard to tell sometimes. Some people, not me of course, but some people have a pretty odd sense of humour.

We have to be so careful what books or TV programs we subject our children to since little kids can’t always distinguish between right and wrong. I’m sure you recall the movie Throw Mother From the Train, which I believe encouraged little tots to boot their mommas out the back door of a VIA bar car. Everyone was up in arms about that one. Fortunately none did, not because the kids didn’t want to, but what preschooler can scrounge up enough cash to buy a VIA Rail ticket on the allowance most kids get? Come to think of it, I can’t find any seniors who can afford to ride on VIA Rail either.

This isn’t the first time Dr. Seuss has been accused of promoting mayhem. One crackpot even suggested that the Grinch was justified in trying to destroy Christmas for the simple folk of Whoville. Oh, never mind, that was me.

Seuss’s 1974 book There’s a Wocket in my Pocket caused an absolute foofaraw when it appeared on the bookshelves. His male readers were forever asking ladies to put their hands in his pocket to look for his wocket. When they did they found there was nothing in there – well nothing they were interested in anyway.

Green Eggs and Ham was another good one and did very well sales-wise until the unfortunate poisoning. I Am Not Going to Get Up Today finally started selling well once Seuss realized the printer had left the “It” out of the title.

The trouble with all children’s literature or a lot of it anyway, is that some of it is a little scary. Oh, not the little picture books we find in the children’s section of Manticore Books; they are usually quite funny and not the least bit disturbing. Nursery rhymes and fairy tales on the other hand are quite often written by someone who should have been locked up.

Hansel and Gretel, Snow White and Little Red Riding Hood all had witches, wicked stepmothers or wolves prowling around the forest. In the case of Little Red, I hope granny was well insured. She got ‘et.

When I was a kid, an hour of bedtime stories usually ended with me hiding under the covers. To this day, I never get into bed without first looking under it. Stupid, maybe, but so far nothing has ever got me. I take that back. One night I looked under the bed and Willison was looking out. He got off lucky. All he needed was a few tranquilizers. I’ve been in therapy for four years.

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