This week in censorship news, Sherman Alexie's award-winning young adult novel, The Absolutely True Story of a Part-Time Indian, has been removed from the reading list for incoming 6th-graders at PS/MS 114 in Rockaway Park because a concerned parent, Kelly-Anne McMullan-Preiss does not think it's "appropriate" for her 11-year-old child to read about masturbation. Which, ha. Ok. Cool that you think your 11-year-old can't handle learning about something that is a pretty universal part of the human experience, Kelly-Anne, but to diminish this book as being just about self-pleasure, simply because it contains sentences like, “And if God hadn’t wanted us to masturbate, then God wouldn’t have given us thumbs. So I thank God for my thumbs,” is reductive and, well, dumb. So, in protest of this pointless book ban (I mean, seriously, these kids are going to learn about masturbating one way or another), I thought we should all take the time to celebrate some great moments of masturbation in literature. And, then, you know. Go celebrate masturbation in your own way. Be creative. Just don't think of Kelly-Anne McMullan-Preiss when you're doing it, because that would just ruin everything.
How can there be a list of great masturbation moments in literature without Roth's Portnoy? There can't. The hard part is choosing which one, really. But anything that involves fruit and the words "Big Boy" is clearly a winner.
Nutting's novel Tampa is the kind of book that everyone tells you not to read on the subway, because, well, things might get uncomfortable. And so, there were actually a ton of scenes to choose from, but this one stands out because it's not just a masturbation scene. It's a double masturbation scene. Double masturbation! Great moment in literature, you guys.
Judy Blume is the best. THE BEST. I devoured all her books when I was a kid and never really understood why this one in particular was so controversial. I mean, it's about a girl who has scoliosis. What's the big deal. Well, it turns out that masturbation is the big deal. It turns out that a teenage girl who is learning how to make herself feel good is a big deal. Ugh. Puritans.
Of course, the most famous line in this Faulkner novel is "My mother is a fish," but that is not about masturbation, that is about death. And we're talking about masturbation. This scene where Darl masturbates is one of the many parts of As I Lay Dying that you need to read twice, because you're like, Wait...what just happened? It will be interesting to see how noted auteur James Franco handles it all in his cinematic version that will be coming soon to a theater near you. Franco plays Darl in the film. So. Get ready to see him jerk off.
This is another book that is frequently banned because, LESBIANS. And MASTURBATION. And OTHER CONTROVERSIAL STUFF. I actually don't really like The Color Purple at all, because I think it's simplistic and I find epistolary novels tedious, but, this is a pretty classic masturbation scene. So, enjoy?
Mr. Bloom with careful hand recomposed his wet shirt. O Lord that little limping devil. Begins to feel cold and clammy. Aftereffect not pleasant. Still you have to get rid of it someway.
Ha. "Limping little devil." Joyce was a pretty kinky Irishman, and this masturbation scene, where Bloom lets loose from his "long Roman candle" is easily one of the best in all of literature.
God, The Ask is so funny and so great to read if you live in New York circa now and if you have a kid and are married and have a brain etc. Please read this book. And enjoy this masturbation scene. Because it's hilarious and so spot-on. Sam Lipsyte is the best.
When I was first putting this list together, my co-worker Henry Stewart asked, "Is it just going to be all Roth and Updike?" Which, NO. It's not "all Roth and Updike," Henry. But there did need to be one entry from Updike, that "penis with a thesaurus" on here. So, enjoy. If, you know, you're the kind of person who enjoys Updike's sex writing. Do those people even exist?
I mean, Whitman wrote a poem called "Song of Myself." Clearly the guy enjoyed and was comfortable with his own body. He was way ahead of his time. That's all I've got to say about that.
I couldn't make this list and not include an excerpt from Bukowski's story "Ten Jack Offs." And so here it is. And so this list is finished, and I've corrupted you much in the way that Sherman Alexie's novel has been corrupting young minds since it was first published, if, that is, you think that reading about masturbation is a thing that can corrupt minds, which I don't. Probably you should read one of these books, from start to finish, and appreciate the fact that you're not 11-years-old anymore and no one can tell you what you can and can't read. Being a kid is the worst.
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