A critically acclaimed young adult author has been “canceled” and dropped by her agent after vociferously defending classic books in a Twitter-fueled rage.
Jessica Cluess, the author of the popular “Kingdom of Fire” series (among others) picked a fight with an anti-racist and anti-bias educator Lorena Germán who founded the #DisruptTexts movement which aims to get more works by people of color into schools and to look critically at works by famous white “classic” authors.
“Did y’all know that many of the ‘classics’ were written before the 50s? Think of US society before then & the values that shaped this nation afterwards. THAT is what is in those books. That is why we gotta switch it up. It ain’t just about ‘being old,”‘ Germán tweeted on her now-private account on Nov. 30.
The tweet triggered Cluess, who then sent out a volley of now-deleted tweets (which were captured by the Daily Mail) including one which [Correctly — JDZ] called Germán an “idiot.”
The series of Cluess tweets read:
“If you think Hawthorne was on the side of the judgmental Puritans in The Scarlet Letter then you are an absolute idiot and should not have the title of educator in your bio.”
“If you think Upton Sinclair was on the side of the meat packing industry then you are a fool and should sit down and feel bad about yourself.”
“Ah yes, remember Their Eyes Were Watching God, and other literature of the extraordinary Harlem Renaissance? I guess not. D–k. This anti-intellectual, anti-curiosity bulls–t is poison and I will stand here and scream that it is sheer godd**n evil until my hair falls out. I do not care.” …
Soon a Twitter mob got on board and called Cluess a racist and demanded her publisher Penguin/Random House drop her, prompting the author to delete her tweets and issue an apology saying: “I take full responsibility for my unproved anger against Lorena Germán and the impact of my words on her and all who read them… I want to acknowledge the pain I caused, and to apologize sincerely for it. My words were misguided, wrong, and deeply hurtful.”
While there has been no word from Penguin/Random House, two days later on Dec. 3, Cluess’ agent at the renowned Janklow & Nesbit literary agency, Brooks Sherman, dropped her as a client.
“I hold myself to certain personal and professional standards for the values I support. I no longer represent Jessica Cluess. Her tweets against Loren Germán earlier this week were racist and unacceptable,” Brooks wrote in a tweet. He has since deactivated his account.
As you see, even groveling and recantation are not enough. The heretic must be impoverished as well and deprived of her means of livelihood.
Happily, the days of traditional publishing being a necessity are over. You don’t need an agent or a large corporation. You can just epublish yourself.