Roundup

  • Details on the Save Segundo Plan will be put up here very soon. With the exception of Saturday’s much-needed musical fiesta, I’ve spent the weekend working. My research suggests that the way out is possible, although it will certainly not be easy. More TK.
  • Adam Thirlwell’s The Delighted States is a very odd book: an idiosyncratic volume of literary criticism that you’d think the American litblogosphere would get behind simply because it speaks of literature in a giddy, informed, and near intoxicated manner. But aside from a few grafs at Bluestalking Reader, Maitresse, and Nancy Rommelmann, I’ve seen very little on Thirlwell aside from a few links. I’m hoping to offer something lengthy and intelligible when I can. But the sense I’m getting so far is that Thirlwell is one of us: brash and impetuous, taken with silly generalizations, but also insightful. It was absolutely predictable when Michael Dirda went off on Thirlwell with the same needless energies that he expended on litbloggers. But what I didn’t anticipate was the near silence from the litblogosphere. Care to fess up why, folks?
  • To offer ripe bananas to the monkeys of our world, Dave Itzkoff’s inability to entirely understand Moorcock isn’t nearly as bad as one might think. And it was far from the dumbest article that appeared in yesterday’s Times. That honor goes to three articles. I’ll only mention two. The author of the third article has been mentioned here too many times and I have no wish to comment upon his continued inadequacies. He is beyond hope and best left unmentioned. There is the vague possibility that the other two might learn to use their noggins. But, of course, that last sentence was typed by an oft foolhardy optimist.
  • Stupefaciant Article the First: Margo Rabb’s remarkably snobbish pity party. Considering the current economy, Rabb should be grateful to have her novel published, but she feels the need to bitch and moan about how her po’ li’l nwovel was categorized as YA. Please pass the Kleenex. Of course, Rabb doesn’t seem to understand that agents and publishers are in the business of selling books, not stroking authors’s egos (well, mostly). And if the publishers feel that packaging Rabb’s novel as a YA book will sell more units, well then, what’s the harm? Oh yeah. It’s Rabb’s suggestion that walking into another section of a bookstore — whether it be science fiction, mystery, YA, chick lit, romance, or anything else — is the literary equivalent of talking with those brown-skinned people in the barrio, all of whom will presumably mug her. Apparently, YA is the new chick lit, which also explains why Curtis Sittenfeld — wisely avoiding the genre trash-talking that Rabb and the NYTBR were clearly pining for — was also dragged into the article. Unfortunately, many otherwise smart authors utter some rather foolish conclusions about the incurious nature of adults. But here’s the good news: maybe these authors might not slag off genre as they once did. Then again, never underestimate literary hubris.
  • Stupefacient Article the Second: I think it’s safe to say that when a writer writes an article beginning with the sentence, “I am stumped by how to excerpt the language on message boards and blogs,” the writer — in this case, Virginia Heffernan — can be sufficiently labeled an incurious and joyless badaud. Countless journalists before Ms. Heffernan have found ways to transpose flagrant misspellings into articles, including those who work at the Times, and these gaffes often result in verbal innovation. Consider, for example, a linguistic trend originating in Boston around 1838-9, in which various acronyms of deliberately misspelled words (“K.G.” for “Know Go,” “K.Y.” for “Know Yuse”) led to the emergence of “OK” for “all correct.” It seems to me that it would behoove the journalist not to correct the language so that some of what is being typed at a frenetic pace might be preserved for future linguists, in case any of these marvelous manglings mutate into new coinages. After all, the Wayback Machine only goes so far. Let the humorless grammarians who bang out these cranky castigations for the Times resort to sic impulses if they must. But there’s a significant difference between the President of the United States mispronouncing “nuclear” and some kid banging out an impulsive IM or misspelled comment on the fly. The former is merely embarrassing. The latter may be innovating and not know it.
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11 Comments

  1. What? The Medium is the best column in the Sunday magazine. I’ve caught up on so many web trends from a decade ago. It’s good learning!

  2. Hmmmm… I guess that’s not how I read the Rabb article at all. I read it as a defense of YA as a legitimate form of writing and not the stigmatized bastard child many people think it to be. In my MFA program, to utter the words “young adult” in relation to anything you were working on was tantamount to saying you thought that Dan Brown fellow was pretty darned good.

    Sure, Rabb apparently admits that she had a visceral reaction when she first learned of the sale of her book, and this reaction was supported by the reactions of other writers with similar misgivings about what is ultimately just a marketing ploy. (It should be noted that, prior to HEARTBREAK, Rabb had published several middle grade books so to say that she abhors the idea of writing for kids would be inaccurate.) I suppose my read on this article is not that she’s ungrateful for having her novel published, it’s just that she realized she needed to expand her thoughts on how others might view her work. Sometimes, writers get in their head that they’ve written “this” kind of book or “that” kind and they forget that an audience might see things differently. I’m guilty of that myself.

    I think some of the best YA out there today was stuff where the author wasn’t TRYING to write for the teen audience but the just, as Sittenfeld said, wrote what they wanted and let the publisher figure it out. Rabb’s book is very good and if her publisher decides to release an “adult” version, it can only help.

    Anyway, if you want to read an absolutely abhorrent article that not merely dances on the line of cluelessness but ultimately invites cluelessness to tango, followed by a rohypnol-laden evening of unbridled sex, check out this link.

  3. I’ll have a Q&A up with Margo later today, Ed. She’s actually fine with YA – what puzzles her is that it has been an issue for so many others. What is weird about her last book too is that several chapters were published in adult lit mags, etc. so there was never a hint that it would go YA until the marketing folks decided it would. It was a surprise as she had never thought of the book that way.

    There is a A LOT of talk about this in the kidlitosphere right now. The YA vs adult issue is a crazy complicated big deal as there are so many so-called adult authors who do look down on YA.

    I’ll be honest – I get flak just for reviewing YA for Bookslut; it’s like I’m not good enough to cover the adult books.

    Very frustrating.

  4. I’d like to say more about Thirlwell but have too much else to read right now… I do look forward to seeing what Dan Green has to say, though!

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