I used to read the little magazines, mostly for the jokes, because when I was a teen or pre-teen I really wasn’t into all the sensational medical stuff (that I think was geared to seniors?). I think both of my grandmothers had a supply.
One relative had some “Condensed Books” that I took a look at around that time as well, and I didn’t initially understand the concept, but the Clean Reader app reminded me of it, since I recall looking at the condensed version of a novel I had read in its entirety, and being really confused at all the stuff that was missing: not only lots of words, but the sexy or violent stuff (I can’t remember the book in question) was also muted to unrecognizable status.
So I suppose in a way it’s a modern version of an auto-condenser, except it’s just (“JUST”) changing the words, not removing things. Or not yet.
I never got the point of condensed books: if you wanted the Cliff/Coles Notes version, buy that; nowadays, you can just look up a synopsis on wikipedia or whatever. But to take out the words that the author put in? I don’t care how long-winded an author is (no, really, I don’t: I’ve read Infinite Jest in its entirety several times), if I’m going to skim I want to do it myself, not rely on someone else’s idea of what should be skimmed. I want to read the words–all the words–that the writer included. And if there are a pile of swears, so be it. (Yes, I’ve read a bunch of Irvine Welsh, as well.) If I think an author uses too many for my taste, I will …exercise my right not to buy her next book. That’s how that works.
If you’re really not sure, borrow your books from the library, and return them unfinished if you’re offended!
The picture in my head of the child whose sadness at swears in her book prompted her parents to create this censoring monstrosity is that she’s reading The Catcher in the Rye (I DO NOT KNOW if that’s the book, I haven’t seen it named. It’s just the book that came to mind that schoolkids read, that there is controversy about, language-wise). If that were my daughter (of course if that were my daughter a few fictional swears wouldn’t make her cry: she’d be well inured I imagine), and if I were a religious person, I might answer her sadness with “Holden Caulfield uses language that’s different than how we speak. But there are all kinds of different people in the world, and some of them talk that way. And just because they talk that way doesn’t make them bad people, but if you like we can pray that they decide not to talk like that any more.” (?? plausible?) Rather than, “Oh dear, honey, you shouldn’t have to look at words that make you sad, let me sanitize the world for you.”
I understand wanting to protect your child, but there has to be a better way.