At Guernica, Garth Greenwell discusses his new book, Cleanness, which shares a narrator with his debut, What Belongs to You. “I think it’s an assumption on my part about human beings: that we don’t know ourselves, that we are much more mysteries to ourselves than we are clear, and that someone who feels they are not a mystery to themselves is deluded,” Greenwell says. “It always seems to me that there’s a great deal of ourselves we don’t know, and that we don’t want to know. One of the things that interests me about narrative, and about having the same narrator over two books, is the possibility that presents of repeatedly putting this person in situations where he undergoes a process of coming into self-knowledge and is forced to look at things he’d prefer not to look at and to discover things that maybe he would prefer not to know, or things that frighten him.”
“Riordan’s books prompt an uneasy interrogation of the premise underlying the ‘so long as they’re reading’ side of the debate—at least among those of us who want to share Neil Gaiman’s optimistic view that all reading is good reading, and yet find ourselves by disposition closer to the Tim Parks end of the spectrum, worried that those books on our children’s shelves that offer easy gratification are crowding out the different pleasures that may be offered by less grabby volumes.” In an essay for The New Yorker, Rebecca Mead considers questions about what children should be reading through the lens of the Percy Jackson series.