24 August 2010

No Belly Band Brings Bare Bum Book Ban

First it was the seals, then all those stories about the tar sands, now we have to deal with the disgrace that is British Columbia Ferry Services Inc., laid out for the world to see in the pages of The Guardian and The New Yorker. Goodness, could they not have seen it coming?

Or am I being too harsh? Perhaps the real blame lies with the prissy, prudish people running the corporation's Passages Gift Shops. You know, that area of the ferry devoted to those who'd rather shop for an Orca figurine than take advantage of the opportunity to see the real thing.

"Passages Gift Shops are uniquely West Coast in feel and theme", their website tells us. "The aim is to provide a unique West Coast shopping experience." How do they do it? Just how are they able to offer a unique West Coast shopping experience? Well, one way is by refusing to sell The Golden Mean, the acclaimed first novel by BC native Annabel Lyon. Seems such a curious decision; after all the book hit the bestseller lists, was nominated for both the GG and the Giller, won the Rogers Writers' Trust, and is now garnering rave reviews in the UK. What gives?

As BC Ferries spokeswoman Deborah Marshall explains, it's all about that bum on the cover: "Because we're obviously a 'family show' and we've got children in our gift shops, we had suggested we could carry the book if there's what's called a 'belly band,' wrap around the photo."

Can't say I've ever thought of those trips to Vancouver Island as a "show", family or otherwise. Never once felt tempted to walk out half-way through.

Update: No news to report – international ridicule has not encouraged Passages to revisit its boneheaded decision. In place of their mea culpa, I present the British and American editions of The Golden Mean.

That's the American one on the right. Apparently, being a #1 Canadian bestseller doesn't carry quite the same cachet it does across the pond.


  1. Which bum? There is a horse's ass somewhere in that story.

  2. Hey, we could boycott the ferry! How dare they censor what we can see....something very wrong here. Is this typical West Coast?

  3. bowdler, I suspect that there's more than one horse's ass involved - that, or it is a particularly big horse's ass that has spoken.

    Jabacue, I like to think that the decision is not at all typical of our West Coast, but is more a reflection of the times.