Most of us post book reviews at Amazon.com or other sites for the general reading public. I assume you would agree with me that the chief goal of such reviews is to help those who haven't read the book make an informed decision about whether they should purchase it. That being the case, do you think a good review should include a warning if the book contains language or subject matter that some readers would find objectionable?
I am a staunch opponent of censorship, and I have no sympathy for those who use their "outrage" for political or religious purposes. Yet it seems to me that the best way to keep a free press is to inform consumers in advance so they have no excuse for stumbling upon something that might lead to such outrage. And more open-minded readers might still be grateful for an alert regarding content they may personally find distasteful. On the other hand, I don't want, by pointing it out in a review, to seem in the least disapproving of an author's choice of language or subject matter.
A book like A Severed Head really needs no warning, because even the sketchiest description of the plot tells you that it's about sex--in fact the novel is far less graphic than you might expect. A better example would be something like Rabbit, Run by John Updike, which is surprisingly graphic.
So would you alert readers to potentially offensive content, and if so, how?
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