catapult magazine

catapult magazine


offensive books


Oct 20 2003
08:16 am

I began my AP class – and my teaching career – this year with a parent who was hopping mad because I had the students read a short story that included several sex scenes and the f-word. I may have actually set some sort of record for new teachers making parents mad – not something I’m exactly thrilled about, but that’s life. After discussing the story with my students, however, I had them read “The Fiction Writer and His Country” by Flannery O’Connor, an essay published in “Mystery and Manners”. Two quotes from that essay and the resulting discussion seem especially appropriate to this conversation:
“In the introduction to a collection of his stories called Rotting Hill, Wyndham Lewis has written, “If I write about a hill that is rotting, it is because I despise rot.” The general accusation passed against writers now is that they write about rot because they love it. Some do, and their works may betray them, but it is impossible not to believe that some write about rot because they see it and recognize it for what it is."

and second,
“St. Cyril of Jerusalem, in instructing catechumens, wrote: “The dragon sits by the side of the road, watching those who pass. Beware lest he devour you. We go to the Father of Souls, but it is necessary to pass by the dragon.” No matter what form the dragon may take, it is of this mysterious passage past him, or into his jaws, that stories of any depth will always be concerned to tell, and this being the case, it requires considerable courage at any time, in any country, not to turn away from the storyteller."