"The New Yorker" piece talks about his going to a town in Pennsylvania where "The Buffalo Tree" had been locked away in the principal's office; he thought he'd maybe change some minds during a censorship debate but came away wondering "whether his novel was in fact appropriate" for young readers.
I'm sympathetic with that. "Stoner & Spaz" is often on a banned books list and I've talked to parents -- some reasonable, some so hysterical they expect to hear my cloven hooves on the library floor as the smell of brimstone permeates the room.
Sometimes waving a P.E.N. award around and showing them glowing reviews calms people down, but other times I do that and talk calmly about Colleen's astonishing influence on Ben and they listen and nod and say, "Okay but does she have to use the F-word so much? I hate for my kid to read that. And why do they have to have sex. They're kids!"
Then we have a conversation like this: would one F-word be okay but are eight of them too much? How about four? And, I say, their sexual encounters are for Ben more about self-esteem than lust. They say, "Okay but do you have to write about how they take off their clothes? Can't they just get it over with?"
Then, like poets everywhere, a weariness comes over me and I long to lie down by a brook and dream.