An article from The Roanoke Times names six specific pages of the novel that J.B. Lineberry and other members of the community in Carroll County used to support their case against the novel.1
The six pages are all from the character of Meredith, a young veteran of the Vietnam War who loses his left arm and leg from a land mine explosion.2 The explosion paralyzes Meredith and leaves him with brain damage that removes his ability to speak, though he is able to narrate his inward thoughts and struggles to readers of the novel.3
Meredith talks about his experience in the war and expresses his fears about being a new father and an able husband. Specifically, he worries adjusting to his amputations and keeping his young wife sexually satisfied.4
As such, these pages of the novel contain some strong language and more mature descriptions of sex, especially when those pages are read out od context from the whole of the novel.
The six pages of the novel that Lineberry distributed are featured below. The text comes from the Southern Revivals edition of the novel, but all text was cross referenced with the original Algonquin Books edition to ensure accuracy.
I dreamed I saw Mark walk out of this ward, on out that door. He was wearing a flight suit. And across the room, that stupid asshole that keeps saying I’m going to die, he said they had money on it—that I won’t going to make it.
There’s a leg and arm been knocked out—knocked off—but there’s a good, alive great big peach pit in me somewhere, about the size of a baseball, that ain’t going nowhere. And the doctor told me I was going to make it. He said all my vital signs are strong, but there’s a head-wound problem, giving me paralysis, and a talking problem.
I don’t remember what happened, but some of them have been in and told me. Starnes come by a couple of days ago . . . or, I can’t remember his name, and told me that Hux and Mattherson and Hickman were all killed. He looked pretty shook. Hux. Hux is toughest to think about. Hux was my buddy.
If I could talk I’d tell that son of a bitch across the way to
keep his goddamn mouth shut and I’d get somebody to set his fucking mattress on fire. There’s plenty of guys in here would do it. Burn his ass up. Ass his burn up. Something.
What is odd is that I ain’t felt a lot of pain yet, except my ear mainly. It’s all numb—the ends of my leg and arm. My head. The doctor told me I’d get some odd sensations. I do grip things with my left hand—the one that’s gone. I grip. I look down there, like I’ll look down there right now. I look down there and see where the bandages end. And beyond that in the air I grip with my hand. I grip onto something. Anything that I want to think about, I grip onto. Usually it’s a cold metal bar and I can feel the cold in my hand. And I read the newspaper in my head. It’ll come up in my mind and I read it but it don’t make no sense. I can’t stop it from happening, and there are all kinds of things I can’t remember.
What I wish is there was some way I could grab my dick, which thank God is all there.
It was the realest dream I’ve ever had. Mark just walking, stopping, looking up at that light, walking out the door with jerkhead over there mouthing off.
God knows I could’ve died. And I’d end up at the graveyard. It’s in my papers and I wrote it to Bliss in a letter and talked to her about it, and told the others. Bliss would make them do it. Whatever there was of me left would be in the graveyard.
We picked pieces of bodies off a fence one time. I got a piece we couldn’t tell was a big elbow or a little knee.
What a dicked-up thing. It’s like what Hux wrote on his helmet—SHIT HAPPENS. What I’m glad about is I got my brain, mostly. I can think, but you get shrapnel in your head, man.
Lead head. Now whatever used to be there to pull the words out of my head and stick them in my mouth to spit out—whatever that was—is gone. Adios. so I get the words and stick them in a wheelbarrow and start walking forward with them and they roll over this cliff into nothing, into thin air, and if it’s the doctor listening, he’s ok; he carries a piece of paper with “yes” on one end, “no” on the other end, and “maybe” in the middle. And I can look at the word I want. He says it’s good I’m continent. That means I can shit and piss on my own. Lucky me. A cow bends her back when she pisses, curved like a new moon.
I get a hard on in the night and want to jack off, but I can’t.
Rhonda ain’t going to be happy just jacking me off. And she ain’t going to stand for me just sitting around, shitting in a pan. I know that. We’ll have to figure out something. But whatever we figure out, I feel it in my bones that she’ll skip.
One thing, I ain’t going to be in the field again. I ain’t going to eat no more C-rations; see nobody blown up with red and blue insides hanging out; ain’t going to see no more leeches; and neither one of my tattoos got blown away.
The worst thing is not being able to talk. I’d rather be blind, and get around, than like I am now. I’d rather be anything but dead than the way I am right now, except couldn’t think straight. I can’t think straight, exactly, all the time. But that don’t bother me. You don’t have quite so much to think about if you can’t go nowhere.
I’m getting letters from everybody, and Aunt Esther has got them writing from the church. The Red Cross volunteer who brings them to me is about the same age as Bliss and
never work out, and only about half the ones that need it end up with an artificial leg. The rest rather do without it. I ain’t made up my mind. I’ll have to see what I think.
There’s going to be a therapist for me at home and all that, and I’ll be able to try out several different styles of artificial limbs in about two months. Something I look forward to.
I got my voice back and I can say a few words. I got a little movement in my right shoulder and right hip.
I had one wet dream, and when they cleaned me up I didn’t give a shit because it was worth it. One thing I could use is a warm, soft hand down there. Jackie, jackie, jackie, jackie, jackie.
The problem with me screwing Rhonda is that Rhonda will have to screw me and how the hell are you supposed to hold on to somebody with a numb and a paralyzed hand. Grip her shoulders? This is going to be a tough part of readjustment. That so-called counselor at Da Nang was in the wrong tree. He talked about all the wrong stuff. Emotional adjustment and all that. I ain’t worried about the emotional stuff. Frankenstein. I’m worried about jacking off, or somebody else jacking me off, and fucking; and I’m worried about when Rhonda’s going to leave, before or after the baby’s born, and I’m worried about how I’m going to look like I’m supporting a family;
the government is supposed to take care of that, thank God; and one of the things that galls me and scares me is holding the baby. Without dropping him, or her, whichever: Floatplane Jack, Floatplane Jane. What kind of daddy am I going to be? Whoopee. Time to play catch, time to play marbles, time to jump rope, time to talk, sing cowboy songs. Oh, bury me not on the lone prairie.
to me, “Come on, let me roll you out to the guest house.”
On the way over we meet Thatcher. He stopped and stood while Bliss rolled me toward him.
“Sorry, Meredith,” he said. “I was on the phone line. But maybe it’ll be a little more relaxed without her around.”
When Bliss rolled me into the guest room I thought about killing myself somehow, but when she turned on the light, I saw Ross’s striped T-shirt on the bed—and Bliss had her hand on the back of my neck—and I knew it won’t know more than a thought.
She walked over and sat down on the bed. “Rhonda’s not coming back.”
Bliss talked about how everybody would help, that she was sure I could come live with her and Thatcher if I wanted to, that when I learn to walk and got the arm I’m supposed to get, things would get better. She didn’t know I was just getting lower and lower. I felt like I was at the bottom of the barrel, end of my rope, end of the line. I didn’t even have the energy to hold my mouth closed. I nodded toward the bed.
She rolled me over to the bed, clicked out the brace, stood me up in the walker, took off my coat, unbuttoned my shirt, pulled it off, unbuckled my belt, unzipped my pants and she started pulling them down over my hips I got a hard-on. She moved the walker, held my arm, pulled back the covers, helped me sit on the bed and then lie down. She covered me up, turned me over to face the wall, walked over to the door, turned out the light, stood there a minute, then left. In a few seconds she came back in, closed the door, locked it. She took
off her coat—I could hear her, my good ear was up—and got into bed behind me. She was wearing a silk-feeling blouse. She put her top arm under mine, her hand on my chest and squeezed. God, oh God, I needed it. I needed that. She massaged my chest, then my stomach, then the back of my head with her other hand; then she worked my shorts down. It was a little cumbersome. I was ready to come if she touched me, I knew. She got her other hand under my waist and found me with both her hands at the same time and began to move them first very, very slowly. . . . It was like heaven.
- “Banned book details vet’s struggle.” 29 March 1992. The Roanoke Times. Accessed April 25, 2019. https://scholar.lib.vt.edu/VA-news/ROA-Times/issues/1992/rt9203/920329/03290164.htm
- Edgerton, C. The Floatplane Notebooks. 2017. Southern Revivals Ed. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press.
- (Edgerton, 2017)
- (Edgerton, 2017)