August 25, 2006


Stepping off from this article on adult readers of YA lit, Leila and her commenters have begun to assemble a "list of Young Adult books that adults will appreciate (and hopefully love)"

(As for the original article, do you buy this explanation: that "grown-up" readers have turned to YA in order to escape the untidy resolutions of "adult" books? If so, maybe I picked the wrong ghetto to try to crossover from!)

UPDATE: The debate continues with this petulant post in the "literary fiction" blog Elegant Variation, with the subsequent comments thread featuring contributions by Cecil Castellucci, Gwenda Bond and others. Original title: "When the Bar has no Lower to Go..." (subsequently emended to "Choices.") Excerpt from the post's author's follow-up comment:

I believe that it is the very conventions and requirements of the genres in question that forever prevent them from reaching the very highest levels. I don’t think any art of any kind can reach its full flower with any kinds of restraints – happy endings, clear villains, three acts, whatever – on them. I understand that this comes down to what you read novels for, and not everyone wants what I want. But I seek out the great depth that only novels can offer, the interiority of character, of being able to travel infinitely deep and I think that these types of books – out of honest and fair consideration of their readerships – don’t go there.
Let's hear it for the "great edifice of Grownupland."

UPDATE UPDATE: I like this comment on the EV thread by Lauren McLaughlin:

Self-obsessed, lamebrained, terminal psychoanalysis is exactly what I suspect drives readers screaming from the "serious" literature section and into the arms of Genre where, freed from the devouring needs of endless self-analysis, ideas both Big and small have room to breathe.
Posted by Dr. Frank at August 25, 2006 08:40 PM | TrackBack

The crossover issue is one that I'm obsessed with. I did my Vermont College graudate lecture on it, and have been dwelling on it for years . . .

I think what it boils down to is that a lot of the books that we classify as YA could also be categorized differently . . . I don't know what you'd call it but there is definitely a genre of books about coming of age that appeals to some teens as well as some adults.

I see it as another choice among the many we all make as readers. If you like fantasy, you'll like HIS DARK MATERIALS. If you don't like fantsasy, even if you're the target audience (which is disputable on that one), you won't. If you like chick lit, you'll probably like Meg Cabot's teen fiction, even if you're forty. Ya know?

The general things I do think adult readers of contemporary realistic YA are drawn to: focus (not meandering epic tales), spunky characters, voice, tight plot. Of course there are myriad exceptions.

Ugh. Head hurts.

Posted by: lizgallagher at August 25, 2006 09:14 PM

Nope, I don't buy it. I like good stories. I don't care what genre they are, or what the target demographic is. And there are just some YA books that don't seem to be written for YA, but just for the sake of telling a story.

Posted by: Jodi at August 25, 2006 09:27 PM

Hey, Frank, not only music and books, but homeopathic medicine, too?

The commercial made me laugh heartily.

Posted by: JodyAnthony at August 26, 2006 03:00 AM

I've read the "high-end" fiction in the past. Nowadays I read more YA, mystery and non-fiction. The reson for this is that in these genres, *things actually happen*! The serious literature has become so internal and anemic it's just a chore to get through. The authors try to make up for the bloodlessness by attempting to craft beautiful sentences. But the wordcraft is in the service of nothing. I couldn't take it anymore

Posted by: nancy at August 28, 2006 06:36 PM