“You should feel embarrassed when what you’re reading was written for children,” Ruth Graham wrote in Slate last week, stirring the proverbial pot of new adult fans of Young Adult bestsellers like The Fault in Our Stars and Eleanor & Park. A host of YA-defenders rose up to shout her down. “You should never be embarrassed by any book you enjoy,” Hillary Kelly responds in The New Republic, unrealistically (we’re embarrassed by quite a lot). For the Washington Post, Alyssa Rosenberg cites examples of worthwhile, complex YA fiction we can certainly support: The Chronicles of Narnia, The Pushcart War, A Wrinkle in Time, and The Westing Game.
Following Sarah Hepola's devastating New York Times Magazine profile of Cat Marnell with empathy and queer theory, Jane Hu's piece on what it means to read Marnell, to follow her and crave her work even as her work destroys her, merits reading and rereading.
Book reviews are great and all, but even we sometimes feel they're missing something. Enter Kevin Thomas, whose HORN! illustrated reviews for The Rumpus are beautiful and informative in under 9 panels. Compare his pieces on Roxane Gay's An Untamed State or Leslie Jamison's The Empathy Exams to our reviews here and here, and be sure to check out the just-published HORN! The Collected Reviews.
"Publishing is a word that, like the book, is almost but not quite a proxy for the 'business of literature.' Current accounts of publishing have the industry about as imperiled as the book, and the presumption is that if we lose publishing, we lose good books. Yet what we have right now is a system that produces great literature in spite of itself." Twenty-first century publishing works in mysterious ways.
The L.A. Times Book Prize finalists for 2013 have been announced. The five finalists in fiction are: Percival Everett's Percival Everett by Virgil Russell, Claire Messud's The Woman Upstairs (also see her Year in Reading post), Ruth Ozeki's A Tale for the Time Being, Susan Steinberg's Spectacle, and Daniel Woodrell's The Maid’s Version. The winner will be announced on April 11.
This one goes out to all the visual learners out there. Here's a helpful, illustrated guide to writing scenes and stories with Jeff VanderMeer, author of the bestselling Southern Reach Trilogy. Bonus: here's an interview by VanderMeer with author Richard House from earlier this year.