Ban this book!

Like most writers, there's one fundamental question I grapple with each time I pick up my pen and e-paper, and decide to confront my e-writer's block. How can I include more stuff about me in my column? Sure, I already write the pieces, but half the time what I say isn't even about yours truly!

Stumped on how to best resolve my query, I decided to call on the advice of an award-winning author, who I am honor bound to leave anonymous (due to obvious professional reasons). The author, never one to be accused of being a smart-Alex (or should I say smart-Alexie?), has written eight books, his most controversial being a contemporary young adult bildungsroman focusing on the plight of a young Native American boy. He (or she) also follows me on Twitter. And we travel back in time to solve mysteries.

In response to my question, this masked man/woman/robot of mystery told me: 'Well, Zee - you've told the public what to read - now you must tell them what not to read.'

(Disclaimer: The conversation between Sherman (whoops, how did that slip out?) and myself may not actually have happened, and could, hypothetically be the result of several semi-creepy daydreams/hallucinations now being presented as fact. Just to be clear, Sherman is, however, following me on Twitter.)

Now, if I can trouble you to recall some ancient history, you may remember that last month there was a rather large conflagration over the teaching of Sherman Alexie's novel, 'The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,' at Lake Oswego High School and boy-oh-boy, if you enjoyed being offended by that - have I got a novel for you.

A novel so repulsive, you'll have to buy it twice just to make sure it wasn't a misprint. The book in question? 'Wire to Wire' by first-time author (and registered voter) Scott Sparling.

First off, let me squelch any notion that I would use my position of enormous power within the LO-Media-Sphere to crassly review my own father's book. It just plain ain't so. Sparling (the author) is completely unrelated to me, except for the odd coincidence that we share a last name and around 50 percent of our DNA. But there isn't anything accidental about the offensive nature of Sparling's 'book.' In fact, I demand that the Lake Oswego School District buy 1,000 copies just so they can be immediately burned. (Purchased at cover price, of course. Wholesale book-tinder just doesn't yield up that same tangy, charcoal-roasted censorship-y flavor.)

Remember that 'Indian' was deemed objectionable based on depictions of characters A) Forgetting to remove their caps when in the presence of a personage of noble-birth, B) Wearing petticoats that exposed both the upper wrist and lower ankle, and C) Ending their sentences with a hanging participle without a subsequent scene where a member of the clergy stressed that such actions were unfavorable.

'Wire to Wire' features all that, plus a heapin' helpin' of train-hopping, explosion-combusting, and glue-sniffing. So bad, 'Monocle Enthusiast Monthly' said it was 'Guaranteed to shock one's monocle right off. Egad!'

In fact, in my continued commitment to journalistic excellence, I managed to obtain this exclusive interview with Sparling, journeying great distances past both the 'half bath' and the 'foyer' to reach Sparling's den of depravity. The unedited, uncensored interview is reproduced here verbatim:

Sparling: Hey Dad - do you have a second? I need to -

Sparling: Can it wait? I'm right in the middle of thi -

Sparling: No, it can't wait. This is impor -

Sparling: Look, I was just sayin -

Sparling: But, I -

Sparling: Wait -

Sparling: Hold on, which one of us is -

Sparling: You'll never understand! (Runs to room, slamming door. Soon the thumping bass beats of DJ Jazzy Jeff's 1988 hit, 'Parents Just Don't Understand' can be heard through the walls of the house.)

Sparling: (A single tear running down his cheek.) If only I had gone to more of his Little League games. (Exeunt)

As you can see, things got kinda Arthur Miller-y there pretty fast, and hey, speaking of themes of suburban decay in the America family, did you know that Sparling reportedly took over 20 years to finish 'Wire to Wire?' That's longer than it takes to raise a human child from inception to maturation. I wonder which he loves more???

(Not to brag, but I write my columns between the hours of 3 and 5 a.m. the day before they're due, while mainlining Cheeto dust and slurping legal-in-Mexico brand energy drinks. If it took Sparling 20 whole years to write one measly book, one can only assume that Sparling (no relation) must be incredibly, incredibly lazy.)

By this point, I bet you're just raring at the bit to voice your displeasure. Might I suggest letting your money do the talking by, uh, reverse-boycotting the book, and buying one (or 12 - it makes a great stocking stuffer!) today. Then you can write nasty things in the margins and/or replace each 'cuss' or other objectionable word with the phrase 'pumpkin-lovin.''

And remember, the fact that Playboy, The Oregonian, The Cleveland Plain Dealer, and Publishers Weekly loved the book in their positive reviews is merely a sign that, once again, Sparling is the only voice you can trust for hard-hitting, Sparling-related news coverage. Sparling out!

Zane Sparling, a senior at Lake Oswego High School, writes a twice-a-month column for the Lake Oswego Review.

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