Tuesday, February 15, 2011

More Censorship Trouble

I learned today of another casualty in the current trendy war on taboo. "Uncle Ed's Lap" by Parker Ford has been pulled from the Kindle shelves at Amazon because the material was deemed to be "questionable". Now this is a book I've read, and reviewed here on this very site. It was possibly the finest piece of erotica I read in 2010.

In this story, there are several boundary-pushing elements. There's erotic asphyxiation. There's the hint of non-consent. But based on the current trend, it seems there's a whole other element which resulted in this book being suppressed. That element is, for want of a better term, "mock-incest".

"Uncle Ed's Lap" is the story of a young woman's affair with her uncle by marriage. That is, she was blood related to her aunt, and this man was married to that aunt. There are no biological shenanigans going on.

Lately, Amazon (and probably others) have been clearing their Kindle shelves of any erotic material that contains even a hint of squick. And this story could easily fall under that loose category.

I don't pretend that it's a story everyone would want to read. But the thing is, if we're capable of reading the book, we're capable of reading the blurb, too. It's stated quite clearly in the warnings section just what goes on between the pages. If it doesn't push your buttons, leave it on the shelf.

Last year I also read "Gerald's Game" by Stephen King. I didn't greatly enjoy the book, but that's not relevant here. What stuck with me were the graphic descriptions of several squick-related activities. Mostly the non-consensual sexual touching of an underage her father. Her actual, blood-related, biological father. There's even a cumshot.

Now I just checked, and "Gerald's Game" is still available on Kindle. In light of the recent squick-hunt, there are only two reasons I can fathom for this being so. The first reason: it's not erotica, and these events are not glorified, celebrated or eroticized. The second reason: it's Stephen King. No retailer would willingly pull mega-selling authors from their shelves.

But when you're Parker Ford, a fine writer who's with a couple of small publishers...well, I say "good luck". Ma'am, your story deserves better treatment, and I believe you, too, deserve the same.

And just to finish with, I found it interesting to note that, while the Kindle edition has evaporated, the paperback version of "Uncle Ed's Lap" is still available. Make of that what you will.


Fulani said...

At one time you couldn't get anything that had an 'erotica' tag on Kindle. Then it seemed you could, but only if it was LGBT. Then lots was available and a great deal of my stuff went up there. Now, if you're right, they're pruning again. Apple have been more consistent about their policy, though whether they've actually followed it in practice I couldn't say.

A lot of factors seem to be in play here: whether a book has a 'reputation' for its erotic content (we can all think of a yard's worth of books with with transgressive content that are widely considered 'literature' not 'erotica'); whether it's primarily for the LGBT market, where there are plenty of people who will shout about freedom of expression, probably more loudly than is the case in the general market; how vulnerable companies feel about prosecutions for supplying 'pornography' when standards and definitions for e-books, print, DVD and other media may differ, and they have little control over which country the item is downloaded in, etc etc.

I'm not privy to the inner workings of online retailers of e-books but there seem to be arguments going on within these companies that might well be fascinating if we knew the details. I'd guess there are different factions within the companies and the situation changes depending on their influence and their reading of wider market/legal/political issues.

Parker Ford said...

I have to say that my email was answered and the title has been restored. So this one is a win for the little guy. Many thanks to you, Mr. Willsin for your kind words and this blog :)


Willsin Rowe said...

Fulani, I think that's the most comprehensive comment I've ever received on a blog! Thank you. I can think of nothing to add.
Parker, I'm so glad your book's been restored. I truly "felt" that story better than I feel most others. One for the little guys indeed. Rock on. \m/ \m/