Joel Stein crapped my bed.

I see what you did there, NYT. Joel Stein offered you a chance to troll for page-hits from angry YA fans, and you were only too happy to have their wrath in the comment box. What does Mr. Stein have to say?

I have no idea what “The Hunger Games” is like. Maybe there are complicated shades of good and evil in each character. Maybe there are Pynchonesque turns of phrase. Maybe it delves into issues of identity, self-justification and anomie that would make David Foster Wallace proud. I don’t know because it’s a book for kids. I’ll read “The Hunger Games” when I finish the previous 3,000 years of fiction written for adults.

Oh, for fuck’s sake.

There is no coherent position here. There is no positive defense of the pleasures of reading fiction geared to adult sensibilities. There is not even an honest distinction between children’s books and YA fiction. There’s a reason why they call it “Young Adult,” Joel. It’s closer to books for adults than books for little kids. No, Joel Stein does not tell us WHY adults should read adult books, he just looks at Harry Potter, Twilight and The Hunger Games (as if they’re interchangeable) and says, “Ew.” He made this non-argument, and the New York Times gave him a platform. Great going, NYT. This is exactly the kind of example we need to have set by the elite mainstream media.

(I’ll pause here for a moment to vacuum the sarcasm out of my keyboard.)

Looking down one's nose is not an insight.

As a writer of grown-up fiction, the last thing I need is someone like Joel Stein on my side. This kind of looking-down-nose sneering isn’t going to make adult enthusiasts of YA fiction any less invested in their love of books geared to teens. It’s not going to make readers any more interested in books for adults. It’s certainly not going to make grown-up novels any more attractive to people who currently don’t read books for pleasure. If he wants to make YA enthusiasts even more uninterested in adult fiction, he’s doing a bang-up job. If the goal here is to make adult lit fic seem even more the bastion of unthinking snobs, then mission accomplished, but as someone who has written, continues to write and is trying to sell adult fiction, I would like to buy Joel Stein a ladder so he can get over himself.

If you’re not interested in reading The Hunger Games, then…don’t read The Hunger Games. When you compare it to Horton Hatches the Egg, however, you look like someone who could have taken a few more Literature credits in college.

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  1. #1 by Tracey on April 2, 2012 - 11:36 AM

    Seriously. Why did he even bother?

    • #2 by alysonmiers on April 2, 2012 - 11:43 AM

      Because the NYT enabled him!

      • #3 by Tracey on April 2, 2012 - 6:21 PM

        True.

  2. #4 by Annie Oldham on April 4, 2012 - 1:12 PM

    I love this post. I wonder if Mr. Stein ever considered such classics as Huckleberry Finn, Lord of the Flies, and To Kill a Mockingbird are “technically” YA fiction?

    I’m a YA author, so I viewed his inane editorial from that perspective. It was nice to read from the perspective of someone who creates adult literature. Thank you!

    • #5 by alysonmiers on April 4, 2012 - 1:27 PM

      Stein doesn’t seem to have considered much of anything.

      You’re welcome! I wondered aloud on Twitter whether I’d have more people reading my book if I insulted their intelligence. Somehow, I don’t think that would go very far.

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