Morning roundup: Five recent YA thinkpieces.
Here they all are in one place, to read or ignore as you so desire:
- At the Atlantic: Young Adult Fiction Doesn't Need to Be a 'Gateway' to the Classics. "But kids are not just potential people; they're people, period. ... Aesthetic differences are part of what make aesthetics fun; having conversations with folks who have a separate take on the thing you love is part of the pleasure of being engaged with art. And that engagement is worthwhile for him, it seems to me, whether or not he goes on to read Henry James." There's a recurring typo that I really hope the Atlantic fixes—almost every single time the essayist attempts to cite Rebecca Mead's recent New Yorker piece, he namechecks Ruth Graham instead.
- At the Mary Sue: Why Are We Still Fighting About YA Lit? "But what I suspect is that it’s bearing the brunt of criticism at the moment because it’s easier for book snobs to set sights on the tastes of adult YA readers. After all, it seems more logical to say, “You’re not a teenager—stop reading books written for teenagers,” than it is to say, “John Grisham’s books are poorly written.”" What *I* suspect is that people are going to take issue with the fact that this essay basically equates all of YA, quality-, complexity-, and depth-wise, to John Grisham. To which I say: Margo Lanagan. Melina Marchetta. Coe Booth. M.T. Anderson. A.S. King. Meg Rosoff.
- John Green at the Horn Book: Does YA Mean Anything Anymore?: Genre in a Digitized World – The Zena Sutherland Lecture. "This is not a question of books being moral; it’s a question of books being hopeful without being dishonest. This is what good YA novels do for teens that Angry Birds cannot: they offer light that can burn bright even in the way-down-deep-darkness-which-is-you. I know this is an old-fashioned way of imagining the making of art, but I believe it. I believe that fiction can help, that made-up stories can matter by helping us to feel unalone, by connecting us to others, and by giving shape to the world as we find it — a world that is broken and unjust and horrifying and not without hope." I don't entirely agree with this, actually—while I think an ultimately hopeful outlook is very COMMON in YA, I don't think that it is necessarily NECESSARY to make a book GOOD. The big one, for me, is emotional truth.
- At the Paris Review: Why This Grown-up Reads YA. "The binary between children’s and adult fiction is a false one, based on a limited conception of the self. I have not ceased to be the person I was when I was an adolescent; in fact, to think so seems to me like a kind of dissociation from a crucial aspect of one’s self. And the critic should be concerned with what is good and what is bad, what is art and what is not—not with what’s “appropriate.”"
- At the NYT: Look Homeward, Reader. "The group, which includes an editor, a media columnist, an academic, a psychiatrist, a literary agent and a few writers, discusses each book without ever saying, “Isn’t it wacky that we’ve chosen to gather here to read this seriously?” There is nothing that marks these evenings as subculture-y, kitschy or transgressive. Yet they aren’t quaint or childish, either. Our adult sensibilities and experiences remain intact."
*brushes off hands* And now I can close out all of THOSE tabs.