CBC Radio's Canada Reads panel has chosen Lullabies for Little Criminals by Heather O'Neill. I received 'Little Criminals' as a present for Christmas and while it's not perfect, it's an impressive coming-of-age story that tackles poverty, Montreal's underworld of drugs, and prostitution through the eyes of a twelve year old named Baby. Even though the novel won, Denise Bombardier was very much against it:
The panellist most opposed to the choice was author and broadcaster Denis Bombardier who voted against it consistently and said she found the themes of drug use and child prostitution disturbing.
"It's about the trash issues that we have everywhere in our time," she said. "It's too depressing as a book for all of Canada to read. I'm not at ease with it."
Like my previous post on the allegations that writers Toni Morrison, Kurt Vonnegut, etc. are writing pornography because they contain "depictions of sex and rape, and obscene language", I think people like Bombardier and the Livingston Organization for Values in Education are missing the point of these works completely. Their merits lie in their authors' honesty in dealing with issues that would otherwise be swept under the rug. It's sometimes healthy not to want to read about sunshine, puppy dogs, and rainbows, people.
To celebrate Lullabies for Little Criminals win, author Heather O'Neill created a virtual tour of Baby's world on the Canada Reads website. She took photos and matched them with her readings from Baby's point of view. View "Postcards for Little Criminals": A Slideshow by Heather O'Neill.