Teenage Lit, Or Something Like It

December 6th, 2005 · No Comments
by Booksquare

We took a wrong turn in the bookstore the other day. One moment, we were blissfully considering cookbooks (for someone else, not the BS household); the next, we were lost in a sea of reading teenagers. Have you ever tried to navigate an aisle filled with kids lost in books? Let us assure you that they get cranky when forced to shift to make space for pedestrian traffic. The fire marshall would not be pleased, no sirree!

While we are not sure if Edward Rothstein approves of this trend or not, he is clearly not falling on the side of children’s books that are really meant for adults:

But here, too, crankiness gets the better of me as I slip the book out of its case. Only my wariness is not caused by the content. It has to do with this book’s purpose. The jacket calls the anthology a celebration of literary “richness and variety” in which “readers will find beloved works.” But it is not really designed for readers in the usual sense. It was edited to be used in college courses. Childhood, the preface points out, is “a time saturated with narratives,” but this is not a book whose selections are meant to be read to a child as bedtime narratives, let alone as bedtime stories. In fact, the binding is too floppy and the book too weighty to hold up without resting it on a table, and turning its tissue-thin pages requires mature surgical finesse.

At dinner recently, we were seated next to an eleven-year old. That it was assumed we shared her reading tastes was jarring for only a moment. Yeah, yeah, we read kid books — what of it? We had a brief discussion about Dumbledore’s demise and notion of the phoenix as a theme. She felt the change had to happen. It was necessary. We made arrangements to trade manga (she wasn’t hot on the notion of kissing books, but we’re okay with them). We worried about the prices of her favorite titles, and how her parents weren’t ATMs.

This is what we think about when others worry about the death of literature.

File Under: Books/Mags/Blogs · The Future of Publishing