So you can read my books

Monday, February 11, 2019


There are times when I feel 
as if I've stumbled into 
an episode of BLACK MIRROR.

I watch the governor of Virginia say his new proposed legislation will allow 

a baby to be fully delivered, and then the mother and doctor can discuss ending the child's life!

All the while the two women beside him nod sagely in agreement. 

Once out of the mother's body, the child has become this nation's newest citizen and

 has the legal right to be protected against silly nuisances like ... murder.

 I have become belatedly cognizant of 
Sensitivity Readers.

Welcome to the 21st century and 
"sensitivity readers,"
 people hired by writers and publishers, 
especially of young-adult titles,

 to vet manuscripts to make sure things are, ah,
 politically correct, "authentic," and, especially,

Is there any sane reason why a small group of experts 

should be able to claim that it alone can validate a manuscript 

as authentic and real for potential protesters who will claim that 

this or that book must be pulled from shelves, heavily rewritten, or just not published at all?

How many Sensitivity Readers will a book have to go through?

A black critic won't know what a Native American critic might find offensive 

or a Latino critic 

or an Asian critic 

or a Polish critic 

or a Russian critic 

or a Samoan critic.

You get the point

 Take Laura Moriarity.

Her book, American Heart, takes place in a dystopian America 

where Muslims are rounded up and sent to detainment camps.

The narrator is a white girl and even though the publisher and Moriarity worked with sensitivity readers 

and the book received a coveted and rare starred review from Kirkus, 

an intense, immediate online uproar about the book's basic premise erupted. 

The original review, written by a Muslim woman, called it "suspenseful, thought-provoking and touching." 

An online mob, which presumably had not yet read the unpublished book, 

saw it differently, as an intolerable "white savior narrative" and worse.

 Kirkus took down the review and replaced it with a contrite statement from its editor in chief, Claiborne Smith, 

who noted that the review, which was written by a Muslim woman, was being re-evaluated

When the revised version was posted, 
it was more critical, 
and had been stripped of its star.

 Take Amélie Wen Zhao’s Blood Heir

There was a nasty, vicious Twitter "Pile-On" for this poor author.

Her fantasy series, a loose retelling of Anastasia  

with a diverse cast of characters and a hefty dose of blood magic, 

sold at auction in a high six-figure deal with Delacorte. 

A series of tweets, 
without accompanying evidence, 
 accused the author of 
alleged screenshotting-with-intent
of authors who disliked her book.

A smattering of one-star reviews 
cropped up on Miss Zhao’s page.

Miss Zhao put a slave auction scene in her book,  
in which a black character was killed.

Then, the poor woman was called racist.

On January 30th Miss Zhao 
 called for her own book to be canceled.

We now live in 
the Tyranny of the Touchy,
where accusation alone
is enough to convict.

In my own book set in 1946 New Orleans, I described the deplorable attitude of many whites towards blacks.

Yet, I also included Orson Welles impassioned advocating for equal rights for blacks 

when it was very unpopular to do so.

I so wish he had finished his film, "The Story of Jazz."  

He'd signed contracts from Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington. 

Armstrong was cast as himself, Ellington was to have supervised the score.

But Mr. Welles, the genius that he was, was barely able to create in his own time, 

much less have been allowed to create in ours ...  

where Mel Brooks classic movies would be still-born before even reaching the screen.



  1. I read about Blood Heir this morning. People are too darn sensitive. They want to clean history of anything bad ever happening to anyone. But if we don't remember what really happened, we're doomed to repeat those mistakes.
    And yes, I've always said not a chance in hell Blazing Saddles would get made today.

    1. With the six figure advance, I think that perhaps envy and jealousy had their places in the attacks. Sigh. I agree with you: too many people want to bleach out the harsh details of the world's history or the present vicious meanness that lurks to some degree or another deep down in all of us.

      To ignore blemishes does not make them disappear but only grow worse, right?

  2. Blood Heir seems like an interesting book. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Sadly, the author was bullied into canceling it. :-(

  3. Yes, we are living in Orwellian times. The Ministry of Truth is alive and well. I wonder if Orwell could get published today.

    1. The irony is that Orwell probably couldn't get published today! Sad. Hi, Lee. Good to see you here. -)