Saturday, August 26, 2006

The Elegant Variation: When The Bar Has No Lower to Go...Choices*

Check out the comments over at the The Elegant Variation: WHEN THE BAR HAS NO LOWER TO GO ... CHOICES*.

In this corner, The Elegant Variation, who started with a post about YA titled "when the bar has no lower to go."

In that corner, many YA authors and readers, including Cecil Castellucci. (It's CC who TEV credits with getting him to change his title to "Choices.")

Read the comments as many YA writers weigh in TEV's initial insistence that reading YA means you don't want to be a member of "Grownupland."

Interestingly enough, one of my many pet peeves is people who think it's a good thing not to grow up. So you'd think I'd be on the side of anyone who is arguing that people should, well, act like grown ups if they are, indeed, grown ups. But, I measure whether one is or is not an adult not by reading choices, but rather by things like responsibility, maturity, and commitment (as well as other things that have more to do with how a person lives their life and treats others than what is their reading or viewing choice.). Not whether or not someone prefers a happy, or even hopeful, ending to a book.

Another point getting hashed out over at TEV is what makes something YA (or fantasy or fill in your genre or format.) If a book fits within the fantasy genre, yet it is a classic, or the author insists that it's not fantasy, does that mean it's not fantasy?

While we're on the topic, can someone please explain to me why the ending of the book is the sole way to judge a book? Specifically, TEV states: "For someone to say (as the interviewee in the piece did) that base their reading choices on seeking out upbeat endings represents - to me anyway - a terrible lowering of the bar; a life in permanent adolescence where everything resolves all nice and sitcom-like at the end of 30 minutes."

WTF? Personally, I disagree that wanting or seeking out an upbeat ending means any such thing; neither does an upbeat ending condemn a book to being bad. When it comes to endings, what matters is this: has the book "earned" its ending; that is, does the ending make sense, given the characters and what has happened to them during the course of the book? An upbeat ending can make perfect sense in a well-written book; a downbeat ending can be nothing more than didactic and anvil-like. And vice versa.

Well, enough ranting for now. I'm way behind in reviews so let me get busy!

1 comment:

Nancy said...

Thoughtful and pointed response, thanks.

And I completely agree about the "ending of the book" point. Does TEV mean to say that I would be "adolescent" to prefer Shakespeare's comedies to his tragedies, simply because they end happier?

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