Dear Mr. Itzkoff

Please STOP:

To my mind, perhaps the most unusual example of a well-known genre author crossing over into YA turf is a long out-of-print relic called “Nick and the Glimmung,” written by none other than Philip K. Dick. Published in 1988, six years after his death, and never released in the United States, “Nick and the Glimmung” has the gentle pacing and simplified vocabulary of a young-adult novel, but its sensibility and subject matter are unmistakably Dickian.

Gentle pacing? Simplified vocabulary? Huh? (Hat tip to Carrie!)

6 thoughts on “Dear Mr. Itzkoff”

  1. Here’s my position on this: If you are a critic who has a problem with YA, *do an article on it or an essay*. Don’t keep taking swipes in reviews of books. It’s totally unfair and ridiculous. If someone wants to put forth a reason why YA as a category is something they don’t agree with on some philosophical grounds–step forward and make the argument and have the discussion. I’d be fascinated to see that discussion. But it’s just bad, bad reviewing to do what has been happening in recent reviews, taking this kind of side-swipe at YA in a way that’s irrelevant to the subject at hand.

  2. Absolutely — it’s just bad writing. Plus, from what I can tell any opinions he does hold are completely insupportable. Gentle pacing? Simplified vocabulary? The pacing is usually the opposite of gentle; YA books are tight and there’s a greater emphasis on story. Simplified vocabulary? Perhaps in some quarters, but those would be no different than their adult counterparts in the best-seller aisle or the chick lit shelves. But you could also point to tons of books with very sophisticated vocabularies and wordplay. It’s ridiculous.

  3. Oh and p.s. That last is not a slam on books in the bestseller section or the chick lit aisle (merely saying that many examples of each type of book are pretty much one-to-one corollaries in terms of vocabulary between the adult market and YA).

  4. Actually, Itzkoff lost me much earlier in that post. Like in the first sentence:
    “In my Book Review column last weekend, I looked at some issues that arise when genre authors best known for their adult fiction try their hand at writing for younger readers.”
    No, you didn’t do that. You spouted unsupported, vague generalizations and then gave two ancient books a cursory once-over while making suppositions about their authors’ mindset.
    It probably shouldn’t surprise me that Itzkoff is tone-deaf to his deficiencies as a writer. After all, he allows it to be published with his name attached.

  5. i’m coming in late to this discussion, but maybe someone is still reading! what i found really ridiculous about his blog post was that interworld, one of the books he originally reviewed, had some particularly difficult vocab. most adults would have to look up words like synesthetic and obfuscation and flence, all of which were in interworld. i remember reading it and thinking what on earth does flence mean? (FYI, it’s stripping blubber off something. ick.) and the other thing about the original review, i live in NYC and you see people reading the same book on the subway all the time! does he not have a problem with the so-called zombies who read Eat, Pray, Love or The Kite Runner? what’s wrong with everyone reading a popular book? the important thing is that people read.

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