When Hipsters and Teach for America Meet in the Middle: Bret Easton Ellis Banned From Queens Classroom

When Hipsters and Teach for America Meet in the Middle: Bret Easton Ellis Banned From Queens Classroom

Something valuable can be taught from every piece of controversial literature, whether it's from the cautionary tale of hate speech that is Mein Kampf to the crash-course in free speech that is The Anarchist Cookbook. There are certain books, however, that maybe shouldn't be read before young, growing minds are able to process them as lessons. Is Bret Easton Ellis's drug-and-sex-fueled misanthropic rampage through liberal arts college, The Rules of Attraction, one of them? And with the right instruction, do those books really even exist?

Well, via CBS New York, some Queens parents certainly think so:

16-year-old Giavanna Grasso, was supposed to be reading "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" for her honors writing class. Instead, a long-term substitute teacher, Nancy Filingeri, assigned a passage from the book "The Rules of Attraction" by Bret Easton Ellis, a novel spiced up with curse words and sexually explicit language. "The homework was to find the most descriptive parts. The only descriptive parts were the parts where they were doing sexual things," Grasso said. A review by Publishers Weekly called the book "...adolescent fantasy of sex..." that "...manages to pack in a suicide, assorted suicide attempts, an abortion, and the death of a parent."

Oh, come on. Rules of Attraction's a fun read! Also, the 22-year-old Filingeri only assigned a passage, and not the entire novel.

No matter! Ms. Filingeri was taken out of her post and has yet to be reassigned by the NYC Department of Education. Were you in Ms. Filingeri's class? We'd love to hear from you, and to get the gist of the assignment. We'll even keep you anonymous if you want! Give us a shout. And do, at some point, read The Rules of Attraction. It's practically a de facto brochure for the awesome anarchy that is liberal arts school (especially Bennington, Bret Easton Ellis's alma mater). If there are any reasons to go to college besides to get a college education -- the job-market value of which is dropping by the day -- they're in that book.

[fkamer@villagevoice.com]


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