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The Middle Place

The Middle Place - Kelly Corrigan


So how does this censorship thing work exactly?

Excerpt from The Middle Place [with "f-bomb" censored:]:
Just after reading The Middle Place, I stupidly started reading some of the reviews. I got madder by the minute. Far too many reviewers seemed to miss the fact that Kelly Corrigan, the mother of two young girls, was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. Instead, they fretted about the f-bombs. In particular, the paragraph (below) by this reviewer caught my imagination:

A few things bothered me. I didn't like reading with a pen in my hand to mark out the offensive language. I am not a prude, and I even think that some basic swearing can occasionally add to the realism of a situation, but one thing that gets to me is the use of the so-called f-bomb. I don't want to qualify when it should be used (if ever), but it is especially off-putting when it's thrown into an average scenario or situation. Not loving that. I just think there is a better, classier way to communicate. (If you'd rather borrow my censored copy, just let me know). Another thing is she takes the Lord's name in vain so much that I started blacking that out, too. I found it interesting that for someone who doesn't believe in God, His name is her favorite swear word.

Strangely enough, I never noticed the fucking language. And as tempting as it is, I’m not going to comment on this women’s assertion that she is “not a prude.” However, consider this censorship process.

First, you must hunt carefully for the f-bombs, and in this nearly 300-page book, there are actually only 9 instances, not the dozens some reviewers reported. Also the Lord’s name is taken in vain only 5 times. If you want to get anal about this, there are also 3 instances of damn, 5 instances of shit, and 9 instances of hell. Golly gee! So all right, step one is hunting down these words that apparently sear the brain of the reader.

Then, you need to take the time to scribble out the offensive word. Using a pen, this takes a bit of time. Consequently, the word FUCK, for example, must first be spotted, then painstakingly marked out, and then what? Is the book now ready for consumption? The reviewer does offer, very kindly, to pass on the censored copy. However, when you read this copy, doesn’t each instance of words marked out make you hyper-focus on that word and wonder what it is? It would seem that this process accentuates, rather than eradicates, this “salty,” “foul,” “rough,” (etc.) language, to quote some of the adjectives reviewers used.

Reviewers also commented on Kelly Corrigan’s lack of faith, which they also found off-putting. Apparently, if her family is Catholic, she should be as well. One reviewer, apparently missing the fact that this was nonfiction, complained about yet another book about cancer. What a downer. I guess Corrigan should have come up with a happier disease.

Further, as the book develops Corrigan’s character changes. She’s not saintly, and, at times, she seems downright selfish. However, in retrospect, my three star rating climbed to four stars because of that fact. Corrigan does not present herself in a flattering light. Though she is often brave, she has cancer. And, when you have cancer—particularly a form that can be fatal—a little self absorption is downright normal (as is saying “fuck” now and then). Also, for cancer victims it’s often not the big events that finally make you crack, but the little indignities, the new restrictions, and the daily uncertainty of it all. You’ve been invaded, and you’re not in control. Corrigan’s reaction is often to try to control what she can, much to the exhaustion of all around her.

Yet, the memoir is both funny and honest.

*Possible spoiler alert*

When Corrigan finds out she can have no more children, her husband, Edward, makes her laugh by reminding her of…

this funny, plainspoken guy we once met at a wedding in Georgia. This guy had a chicken named Red who laid five eggs a week, sometimes six, eggs that this guy would cook up and eat. When Red stopped laying eggs, he planned to break Red’s neck. Edward said it looked like my days were numbered.

My 4-star rating may be a tad high, but it’s a form of protest. I fucking hate censorship.