Warning: this column may be R14. Read it now before Family First finds it and tries to ban it.
We're going to share the rudest sample from Ted Dawe's Into the River so we can properly assess whether this book should be temporarily censored.
Don't be nervous. There will be no four-letter words you don't want to say out loud in front of Granny. We'll swap a few of the more descriptive terms for inanimate objects that couldn't possibly even offend the Pope. Or whoever it is that Family First worships.
We'll turn to page 156 for the first of the book's salacious samples. Yes, this book makes you wait that long to get to the sexy stuff. It's the same trick Fifty Shades of Grey pulled but this time it has an actual plot and at least one respectable literary award to keep you invested.
At page 156 we find Tania - a young single mum so she must be a bit of a shagger - shampooing Devon's hair. Devon is only a kid so he finds this all a bit overwhelming.
Then the racy bit: "She had his *shampoo bottle* in her wet hand'. He gasped. The next thing was he felt a fluttering convulsion and *disappeared* immediately, draping the wall of the bathroom with a ribbon of *shampoo*."
Swap the words out and it's a reasonably graphic description of what Borat calls sexy times. It's probably quite normal if your first reaction was that you wouldn't want a 13-year-old reading that. Or an 11-year-old with a voracious appetite for books.
But then you probably wouldn't want those kids watching porn on the internet or picking up mum's copy of Fifty Shades and you can bet they've already done both because there are no librarians checking their IDs for either.
So, it's up to the parents to know what the kids are reading, know the contents of the books and stop them if it's not appropriate. But maybe parents shouldn't stop their kids reading this book.
Consider some books censored in the past. Plenty have been banned for doing no more than making us feel uncomfortable about our actions or perceptions or excuses.
Take Uncle Tom's Cabin. Published in 1852 it challenged everyone who thought slavery was A-OK. So the Confederate States of America banned the book rather than ban slavery.
Stalin apparently censored George Orwell's 1984 because he thought it criticised the way he ran the USSR. By the time it was published in 1949 he'd already done most of the killing of his subjects, so banning the book wouldn't have saved all that many lives. Perhaps we're uncomfortable because Into the River challenges us.
Maybe the challenge is that we need to accept that kids are doing what Devon is doing. They're doing that and a whole lot more. And in real life, it's way more explicit than on the page. The book isn't introducing new ideas to the kids, it's helping them understand what they're already doing. Maybe the challenge is that we need to accept that kids are already consuming this kind of material and worse. Maybe we need to consider what to do about that free access to hard-core porn on the internet before we censor a book doing a better job of putting sex into perspective for young people.
Funnily enough the list of history's banned books corresponds quite nicely with the list of literary classics. Maybe this book will become a classic now. Family First can thank itself for that.