June 11th, 2014


Feeling embarrassed?*

Ruth Graham started it with her article at Slate: "Against YA: Read whatever you want. But you should feel embarrassed when what you’re reading was written for children." Graham manages to diss not only all of YA fiction, but also fantasy, science fiction, and detective fiction, as well, in favor of big-L Literature.

One of my favorite contemporary authors, Lyndsay Faye, has just responded with a wickedly tongue-in-cheek "thank you": "Slate Nailed It: YA and Detective Fiction Are for Rubes."

Faye's reply is well worth reading for insightful sarcasm like this:
"In a knockout left hook of an argument that left me reeling at Graham’s perspicacity, she later suggests, 'the YA and "new adult" boom may mean fewer teens aspire to grown-up reading, because the grown-ups they know are reading their books.' This is not merely true of adults reading Harry Potter, a terrible series touching on love, bravery, ultimate self-sacrifice, and a truly unambiguous, almost cartoonish character named Severus Snape; it is likewise true of detective fiction. When I was very young, I read The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes at the behest of my dad, who loved The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. My father’s unabashed admiration for the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would have stunted my capacity to comprehend literary fiction, razing my intellect like a nuclear winter, had a half-bespectacled, elbow-patched stranger not bashed me over the head with a first edition Finnegan’s Wake when I was a nubile sixteen years of age. If not for this vigilante illuminati (they have capes, and a lair), I would not now have To the Lighthouse and Beloved open at either elbow so I can read them simultaneously in my periphery while writing this article in praise of 'Against YA.'"

Books, again.

* Nope, me neither.