NYTimes: Opposition to a Book Inspires More Art

In the surreal young-adult novel “The Metal Children” by Tobin Falmouth, one by one the teenage girls of a middle-American town become pregnant and vanish, only to reappear as inanimate statues in a nearby cornfield. The book ends with a horrific act of self-inflicted violence that can be seen as either martyrdom or tragic folly, a provocative ambiguity of the sort that teachers are wont to exploit in the classroom. But when “The Metal Children” showed up in the high school curriculum of a town called Midlothia, the school board took exception to its content and banned it, unleashing a torrent of angry reaction.

Actually, “The Metal Children” is not a real, published novel; it is a fictional novel, as it were — a playwright’s invention, the catalyzing agent of a play about what happens when a self-involved writer encounters naïve and biased readers and discovers the unintended consequences of art. Tobin Falmouth is an invention, too, the brooding, troubled lead character, and in the play he travels to Midlothia to confront a feverishly divided populace…

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