Little J and Roger /
Julian's Private Scrapbook
Preface to Little J and Roger
Preface to Julian's Private Scrapbook

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Eldot’s Preface to Little J and Roger

The most magical time in a boy’s life is when he discovers who he is sexually. It can be scary, threatening, and it can be fun and exciting; it can be a mix of these things. At the end of the process, he is forever changed physically and psychologically. This story looks at that process in a way that is unusual, and perhaps unique. It is not a typical coming of age story, though that is central to the work.

Little J and Roger makes an unusual underlying assumption. It departs from “accepted” mores of contemporary American society in a central way: it posits a society that is accepting and non-judgmental. Right and wrong still exist—but the puritan ethic and moral code are dispensed with, as the norm. Moralizers of the puritan sort remain—they are an archetype, after all. They may be problematic, but they are the aberration in this society. Sexual issues are no longer taboo. They are still complex, private, mysterious, and very special—but they are out from under the mindless repression we know so well.

Therefore, an individual is not faced with the “coming out” drama that preoccupies so much of our society; rather, he is faced with the process of  “coming into.” That, as the reader will see, is still a full time challenge.

The time selected to play in is the early 1960s, before the technical gadget revolution. The relative naïveté and general optimism of those years is a comfortable fit for the subject, and not so remote in time that it is unfamiliar—nor would the world of Little J and Roger be preposterously utopian.

The story is meant to entertain, not preach or argue the underlying social issues. Nonetheless, the subject is sufficiently complex to make demands. Standard modern novel criteria cannot accommodate the matter satisfactorily and fully—space sufficient to remain honest to the material is not available. The solution has been to craft the story into a form that can satisfy both the contemporary rules of length, and the expectations of the subject: it is presented in a series of novels. They progress chronologically and grow in complexity. Each is a complete segment, but the combination as a whole is greater than the parts, allowing the subject to be fully addressed. So this is a hybrid of sorts in structure, somewhere between a Dickens doorstop tome and a modern adventure series.

Readers of these books will be subjected to humor, titillation, and naughty behavior. Any two-week stay at a boy scout camp would have to have that as a minimum. You should expect to have a good time and feel elevated as a human being. This is, above all, a celebration of who we are. You will have to do your own lesson drawing and moralizing, however. And be warned: if you are a puritan at heart, you will not be pleased.

The first novel is introductory, as one would expect. We meet the main characters and a few secondary ones, and we are thrust into the identity question at once, through the characters’ perceptions. We witness their growth and discovery as it occurs. At the end of the second day at camp, what will they have discovered, and what does it mean? Addressing those questions is where Part One of Little J and Roger ends.

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Unintended consequences?

A gateway question for the revised edition of Barr’s Meadow

The intent of this book has always been to shed light on a subject that is generally regarded as taboo. It is nearly commonplace for a young person to develop a crush on a coach, teacher, scoutmaster, priest—or a relative, cousin, or neighbor. The object of affection does not need to be in a position of authority, but he or she often is. What has remained largely in the dark and unaddressed is the adolescent’s perspective in a coming of age story that involves this social taboo.

The story too often told is one of tragic loss, cruelty, melodrama or perversion. Often it is a morality story, told by sage minds to instruct or scold; they would prefer to manipulate and control society rather than help it grow and become whole. Or, they are profiteers that seek sensational material in order to maximize sales. Sometimes one encounters a memoir that is tender, special and sympathetic. Those come closest to dealing directly with the subject. Perhaps that is because they are fact based and not doctrinaire morality tales, sensationalistic exploitation, or worse yet, aimed at the prurient marketplace.

Meanwhile, what is behind the latest story of teen suicide we see in the media? That question is never addressed—it too is largely a taboo area. The recent campaigns to deal with bullying are welcome, but they are after the fact for many, and they sidestep one of the core issues: why has this young person fallen in love with the “wrong” person? That question is not allowed. How then, can it be answered? It never is. Instead, it is met with the pointed finger of blind prejudice. The youth is condemned outright without trial or chance to offer a defense.

Often the victims have done nothing at all other than be born. They are presumed guilty because they surely will be eventually. The doctrine of original sin has been perverted and loosed on society. It is applied sanctimoniously without regulation or supervision.

Society has not allowed itself to look through the eyes of the adolescent at the needs and drives they feel. That has been outsourced to the clinical psychologists; society generally prefers to avoid it—simply wait it out and hope for the best. It is dealt with by meaningless phrases like “You’ll grow out of this...” or “Take my word for it; one day you’ll understand...” or “This is for your own good...”

Nothing is more annoying than being patronized. The good intent is compromised by the personal offense it gives. It is a form of cowardice. The recipient, regardless of age, is ill served—and they realize that at some point. They may forgive it eventually, making excuses or allowances—or they may resent it bitterly. The point is, the unexplained problem does not always go away; it could fester into something even more difficult to manage.

The Julian’s Private Scrapbook series takes an unusual approach to confronting this social quandary: it is a romantic comedy. Throw out the villains and bullies and the prejudices that constrict the blood vessels feeding the social cranium—take a look at life afresh. Maybe if we look at life without the standard societal dressings and assumptions, we can learn something that will help us get beyond this unpleasant and hostile defect in our culture. We can rediscover what in life is beautiful and natural and fun.

Since this book first appeared there has been a mixed response. One, though, brought pause... and it seemed wise to take a second look at how the subject has been treated. The notion that the book could in any way encourage persons who are predators or who use their position or power to abuse underage persons is appalling. That is the “unintended consequence” question. It has caused this special preface to be written and the series subtitle to be changed to reflect the narrowed focus. Various textual revisions have been made. Subsequent volumes will have similar revisions and will be replaced as they are completed. Information about he original version, Little J and Roger, is available at the Diphra Enterprises website.

It is not possible of course to guard against everything. There are wildly diverging tastes and interests. To accommodate them all is impossible. There are those that regard bare ankles as obscene—others find them arousing; they are neither to most people. But this book has no special agenda; it seeks to help and to inform by looking at that taboo head on. It does so by using comedy and everyday foibles, and it tries always to be honest as well as entertaining. That means it walks a fine line somewhere between the bare ankle and the style of sock fashioned to cover it.

The reader will have to decide for himself whether to read some of the passages. Everyone has his own line, ultimately. If it isn’t to your liking, skip to the next scene or put it away.

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