X-rated Ban


I learned to set limits on my students’ writing, for my own sanity and for job preservation —

G-rated material only, no graphic violence because I couldn’t handle it, no explicit sex.  Yes, their minds did go there, but I didn’t care to.  I found out early on that even a seemingly innocent request to write prepositional phrases on the board could go astray: in the cabin, on the bed, under the covers, next to his body . . . stopped and erased quickly.  I told them, “my mother won’t let me read that sort of thing.”

They would point out how successful Stephen King was, and I admitted that was true, but when they became that successful, I still wouldn’t read anything violent they wrote.  I would, though, appear on the talk shows to congratulate them, and “if you get tired of a sports car and would like to give it to me . . . you know I’ll never afford one on my salary . . . ”  😉

Then a student told me, “I know you don’t read Stephen King, but you’ll like this one” and handed me Nightshift with “Quitters, Inc.” bookmarked.  I trusted her evaluation enough to risk reading the story, and she was  correct.  It made excellent points about smoking, how unhealthy it is and how hard a habit it is to break, and it raised discussion issues about whether ends justify means.  I read it with the short story classes from then on, sometimes handing out “Don’t Smoke” stickers afterward.