by Joni Abilene
So I finally told my mother about The Moonflowers and let her have a copy (the one I bought when it first came out and I was dumb and proud and super excited—before flipping through and seeing several typos). She came over last week and gingerly said she thought the book was okay, but wouldn’t finish it because of all the vulgar adjective usage. It’s something I feared, and one of my biggest reasons for holding off on telling her. It hurt, a little. But I do understand. Standing in my kitchen while she checked her email, because she ain’t got no internet at her abode, I thought about why the book has so many cuss words, and why I hadn’t edited out more of them before publication, because that’s most likely the reason it was rejected by a shitload of editors and agents, why why oh why. And then I remembered what I told my own dear self at the time—that there had to be cussing because it was all Keith had. He’s bullied by his father and friends, and there’s just about no one on earth to love or understand him. Cussing was his only way to express. To survive. I felt it deep in my soul that this kid had to have one of the foulest mouths known to man, as a survival technique. As time passes, he’ll settle down and culture himself a little. Mellow out. Like we all do.
So, I tell this to Mother. “Mom, Keith had to cuss. It was all he had.”
“A main character. Keith. The kid.”
“Oh. Your writing reminds me of Catcher in the Rye. But I can’t finish it until you take out all those cuss words.”
Not gunna happen.
Do I really remind her of J.D. Salinger? I wish.
And . . . guess she won’t be reading the second book.