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#JohannesCabal books get, I want on the backs: “Warning: Contains High Levels of Smart Arsery”
Happy to be of service, especially when one considers the ways people are usually of service to his character, Herr Cabal. If you haven’t read him yet, start with Johannes Cabal the Necromancer. And if you haven’t listened to Devo, what is wrong with you?
Speaking of Necromancers, though not Herr Cabal. I had to flee to the upper floor of a branch of the American Book Centre (my spelling, not theirs) in the Netherlands, as the ground floor was being dominated by the extremely loud voice of a dishevelled mother choosing to share every thought fart she might have with the rest of the store. ‘Look at the cover, Bobby, this is not suitable for a 12 year old. Necromancer? What’s a necromancer? “A powerful wizard raising the dead to help him …” That is just not suitable Bobby.’ ‘You said I could have a book, Mom.’ (His spelling, not mine.) ‘This is not suitable, Bobby. No, we will have to go home and google this author on line.’ ‘But Cindy got a book.’ ‘We need to google Bobby. Look at this, it is not suitable for a 12 year old. Its about necromancy.’ And on it went, until they reached the counter, where she said to the assistant, ‘My son wants this book and it is just not suitable for a 12 year old, look at the lurid cover, its about a necromancer.’
‘I would have read that when I was 12, and I would have loved it.’
A pause. Everyone in the store mentally applauded (well, me and my 19 year old at least, I checked with her later).
‘But we’re from the States.’
(As was the book. And a good portion of the other people in the store.)
It can be difficult for all parents. I didn’t object to the lady’s plight, or her desire to research further, it was the noise and the assumption that everyone agreed with her. (And the fact that Bobby was missing out on a promised book, especially when Cindy had hers. Marcia was asleep in a sling around her mother’s neck. Names have been changed to protect my bad memory.) There were no ‘Young Adult’ books when I was a young person. I can recall many days in the school library, where we would move from John Christopher’s Tripod books straight to a Pan Book of Horror where a slasher was slicing prostitutes wide with a can opener. Literary works were not of much interest to us, so we went from ‘The Weirdstone of Brisingamen’ to thrillers and the latest bestsellers such as ‘The Andromeda Strain’ and ‘Jaws’. I deliberately did not read ‘The Lord of the Rings’ because of the other people who read it at school, and I suspect I would have been the same with Harry Potter if he existed then. The 70s blockbusters I read were definitely not age appropriate, though many of them were childish in so many ways. As a father I empathise with the lady in the store, but the fact is, there is much wider range of age appropriate material, about things kids are actually interested in. And as a 12 year old, I would have gobbled up books about necromancers too, if there were such things then. (My great love was vampires, but I can recall only a handful of books I found worth reading in those days – Dracula, Salems Lot, and I am Legend – and I am still happy to re-read those. As a boy, I would not have approved of sparkly vampires or paranormal romance, and while I would not encourage anyone to read such things, neither would I deny them, they are just not, and never were, things that interest me.)
I am happy when my children read, I am happier when they talk about their reading with me and discuss the things they like and don’t, and I am happiest when they stop reading in order to write, whether stories, songs, fan fiction, poetry, blogs, whatever.