Tags: profanity | book | titles | cookie

Profanity Rears Ugly Head in Increasing Numbers of Book Titles

Thursday, 27 Oct 2011 01:35 PM

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Dadgummit, a lot of profanity is sneaking into common parlance these days — and that’s putting it politely in an era when crude, lewd, and rude rule.

Time was, parents handled a child’s blurted expletive with a good, soapy mouth-washing. These days, they need to put blinders on their offsprings’ eyes just to walk through a bookstore to get to the children’s section. There’s no guarantee of a profanity-free zone even there, as book publishers obviously have run out of soap in their book title departments.

USA Today chronicles the trend toward profanity in book titles today, noting, “Publishing used to be a gentleman's profession. But the trend of using profanity in titles — already common in pop songs and even on Broadway — has now spread to books.”

For now, the expletives are somewhat deleted, with the old dodges of dashes and asterisks, but it’s only a matter of time before a publisher eschews even that charade and fills in the blanks. After all, publishers are scrambling for attention amid television’s increasingly naughty plunge even during what once was sacrosanct as the Family Hour — not to mention rough language running amok in social media.

Profanity simply isn’t confined to cable TV any more — and even news outlets are falling prey to the trend. Doubters of that fact need only pick up an issue of Newsweek, which seems to find a way to muscle in a firetruck, with a few letters deleted, almost every week. Beastly occurrence, which seems to have coincided with Newsweek’s partnering with The Daily Beast. (Granted, most examples are in quotes, but a few have sneaked into columns, where writers apparently have sacrificed the finesse of the old days for shock value of the new. And even in quotes, the previous profanity protocol stipulated dashes or asterisks.)

The USA Today report lists several books whose titles would have been hidden behind the counter with the Hustlers and Penthouses in days gone by. The newest — out just this week — is “If You Give a Kid a Cookie, Will He Shut the ---- Up?”, Marcy Roznick’s adult-geared parody of the 1985 children's book “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.”

The 2011 “Cookie” edition, is “a book for adults who have heard these words. If you don't like, don't buy it. Books have a lot to compete with these days," St. Martin's Press executive editor Marc Resnick, who edited the book, told USA Today.
Booksellers have embraced the tomes, many of which amuse readers, USA Today reports.

"People really giggle when they see the titles," Stefanie Kiper, who works at Water Street Bookstore in Exeter, N.H., told the national newspaper. "They sell with absolutely no help from us. It's totally word of mouth and media attention.

"No matter how much cursing, sex and violence is on TV and in movies and music, people still get a little thrill out of seeing a curse word on a printed and bound book on a bookstore shelf."

But some long for the more genteel days of yesteryear . Eric Metaxas, author of a best-selling bio of German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the 2008 children's book “It's Time To Sleep, My Love,” told USA Today that the bawdy book titles are offensive.

"Everyone seems to be afraid to say 'that's wrong' for fear of being called a prude," he told the paper.


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