Last night we watched "Autopsy Room Four," an episode in TNT's Stephen King series Nightmares & Dreamscapes. Entertaining if too artificially drawn-out, the show was about Richard Thomas watching helplessly as doctors prepare to autopsy his body as if he were dead rather than a victim of snake-bite paralysis. Showing my age, I suppose, I was shocked that the happy ending relied on John-Boy getting an erection while the lady doctor was feeling his leg. On free cable. (I've long gotten used to the naughty bits on the premium channels.) They didn't show it, just everyone's reaction (including that of his fiancee, happy that her boyfriend's back and happy that the impotence problem that's plagued him in the past has at least been temporarily banished).
It was perfectly legitimate tv drama, but I was surprised to see it where it was. (Just as I was always nonplussed that my beloved Friends was shown during "family hour" at 8:00PM.) I'm similarly surprised about a great new book, Thomas M. Yeahpau's X Indian Chronicles: The Book of Mausape, coming out this fall from Candlewick. It's a stunning, mordant collection of linked short stories about young Indian men in "NDN City," a myth-shot modern city of gangs, booze, drugs, and sex, where the atmosphere of alienation and disaffectedness is anything but cosmetic.
But it's really, really (brilliantly) raunchy, and I'm having trouble seeing it as YA, although I'd love to be argued otherwise. It's not that it won't appeal to teens, quite the contrary, and Candlewick grades it for 14 and up, rather than the standard 12-up, so they're acknowledging the sophistication of the material. But why not publish it as an adult book? (This is not a question for Candlewick, which doesn't publish books for adults.) One, I'm afraid a lot of adults (and teens who feel themselves beyond YA) are going to miss it; and, two, I'm afraid that the children's buyers and librarians aren't going to know what to do with it. It's one of those books--again--that has me pining for the old lost cause: adult books for young adults. One of those books that deserves being discovered by a young reader rather than presented to.