This book and I have some history. In fact, this is the first and only book that I have ever, in my life, been prevented from reading. And even then, it wasn't so much a prevention as a suggestion from my mother telling me I "probably wasn't quite ready for this one yet, here, read Pet Sematary instead."
Here's the story.
I was in the library one day in the kids' room and I decided that I was getting too grown up for kid books, and besides it was an awfully small room and I had read everything of interest. In those days my interest was mostly high page count because I tended to zip through books and I wanted to make sure I had plenty of reading material between library visits. So, I walked over to the adult section, and, remembering that my mother read a lot of Stephen King, found the K's, the King's, and finally King, Stephen. I browsed the selection and picked one up that seemed to have the least amount of wear and tear. It may have even been displayed. Whatever it was that drew my attention, I grabbed that one and didn't think anything of it. I even started to read a little bit.
At some point I got decided I would go ahead and check out the book by myself. I had my own library card at this point, or at the very least they allowed me to check out materials under my parents' account after looking up my phone number, whatever they did in the pre-internet days. The librarian glanced at me, and then at the book, and then at me, kind of fidgeted and said,
"Are you with your parents today?"
"Yes, they're looking at videos right now."
"I think maybe we should wait to see if it's okay with your mom before we check this out to you."
I nodded and went to go find my mom. She and the librarian conferred and my mom took me aside.
"Amy, I'll let you read this if you really want, but I think there are a lot of things you won't understand and won't enjoy in the book. If you really want to read a Stephen King book, we can find something that's a little more appropriate.*"
I nodded again and we traded out the book and thanked the librarian. I was almost glad because it seemed like a very boring book anyway. What interesting things could possibly happen to a lady died up to a bed with a dead man on the floor?** Grown-ups find the strangest things scary.
Did you catch the part where I said the book looked new? That's right, this book was published in 1992. I was seven, maybe eight at the oldest as we moved to Oklahoma after my 8th birthday and I remember this being in California, and my mother was going to allow me to read this book, "if I really wanted to." The only thing that prevented me from reading Gerald's Game was my mother's advice and the advice of the librarian. If she had absolutely refused to let me read it, I probably would have found a way to get my hands on it. I likely would have even saved my allowance and bought it myself. If I had decided to go ahead with my reading choice, I'm sure I would have gone to my mother and asked her countless questions about what was going on and why it was happening and what it all meant. This is the way to "ban" books.
The librarian did the right thing by, not preventing my reading, but raising the concern to my mother. Maybe some people would see that as a violation of my rights, but the librarian did not insist, she politely asked to see my mother. I half wonder if she would have allowed me to check out the material if I had affirmed that my mother let me read things like that all the time, but at seven I was not yet so good at lying. I actually have the greatest amount of respect for the librarian who tackled this tough situation in such a diplomatic and fair manner. Rather than denying me the book outright, she turned the decision over to the person it belonged to, my parent, who did not prevent me from reading it or similar materials, but suggested alternatives.
*Given my age at the time I'm not sure what the hell an "appropriate" Stephen King is, but I damn well took one home that day and read it.
**I was pretty astute about reading materials at that age. If it weren't for this incident I probably would have put the book down 40 pages in and never thought about it again, but I've always wanted to tackle it again because of this memory.
|Banned for sex, violence, horror, incest...basically for being a book written by Stephen King book.|