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Youth Literature is Filled with Scrotums

Susan Patron won the Newberry Medal—the highest honor in children's literature—for her new book The Higher Power of Lucky. According to the New York Times, though, the fact that Patron uses the word "scrotum" on the first page of Lucky has aroused the ire of children's librarians the country over. Never mind that Patron is only describing where a rattlesnake bit a dog (ouch!), elementary school bookkeepers don't want to have that word in their libraries. (Patron's explanation in the Times—"The word is just so delicious"—probably doesn't endear her any further to the pro-censorship crowd.) But if we're going to ban Lucky, here are a few other scrotalicious books for tweens and below that must go:


The King and Queen of Meeting Cute

If you can't bear to watch the new romantic comedy Music and Lyrics starring Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore, know this: The inevitable love story starts as the leads Meet Cute when (I'm not making this up) replacement plant-waterer Barrymore starts singing words (lyrics) to a melody (music) played by former pop star Grant, who is conveniently suffering from a tragic case of writer's block. I'm capitalizing the phrase "Meet Cute" because that's how its popularizer Roger Ebert does it. (Although, unlike him, I refuse to use it as a noun.)


The Web's Frey Detritus

Memoirist James Frey has been exposed as a fabulist (Gelflogged recently), and, now that one-time Frey endorser Oprah Winfrey has turned on the best-selling author, the at-first-ambivalent media, including many outlets that carried glowing reviews and profiles of Frey, are rushing to bury Frey's rep. (Jon Stewart had a great segment Monday night noting the appropriateness—in light of sometimes-deferential coverage of government officials by TV news—of the press's tone of shock that Oprah would hold a liar to account.) Yet three weeks after the Smoking Gun started the controversy, some funny traces of Frey's erstwhile prestige remain online:


Brill Had It Right

Doubleday didn't bother to fact-check a best-seller, so the Smoking Gun did it for them. James Frey chronicled his rehab from drug and alcohol addiction in A Million Little Pieces, a purported nonfiction memoir that has sold more than 3.5 million copies and was chosen by Oprah Winfrey for her book club (populated by perhaps a million little viewers). Many of Frey's colorful characters were reported dead, conveniently, in the book's postcript, so the Smoking Gun trained its investigative sights on his self-reported crimes and detailed a few days ago extensive problems with Frey's account. Why didn't Doubleday's Nan A. Talese imprint catch the problems? Because books generally aren't fact-checked.


Our Favorite Bookstore introduces its weekly bestseller list from with gushing words about the Powell's bookstore in Portland, Oregon, and its customers. It so happens that is one of Salon's advertisers, and that each bestseller comes with a link to buy the book at Powells. Is there a breach the size of a hardcover Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince in the Chinese wall separating editorial from business over at Salon? Not at all, Kerry Lauerman, who oversees Salon's books section, tells Gelf. But the bestseller list could be going away very soon, nonetheless.


Of Guantanamo and Azkaban

A shadowy figure leading a campaign of terror against civilians. A government floundering in its response, alternating between denial and misdirected crackdowns. "Suspects" led off in chains, their civil liberties violated. This is the wizards' world in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. It also may be her view of George Bush's America in 2005.

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