Dept. of Gimme a F*&!ing Break

Oh, Dave Itzkoff:

As someone whose subway rides tend to resemble scenes from an “Evil Dead” movie, in which I am Bruce Campbell dodging zombies who have had all traces of their humanity sucked out of them by a sinister book — not the “Necronomicon,” but “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” — I sometimes wonder how any self-respecting author of speculative fiction can find fulfillment in writing novels for young readers. I suppose J. K. Rowling could give me 1.12 billion reasons in favor of it: get your formula just right and you can enjoy worldwide sales, film and television options, vibrating-toy-broom licensing fees, Chinese-language bootlegs of your work, a kind of limited immortality (L. Frank Baum who?) and — finally — genuine grown-up readers. But where’s the artistic satisfaction? Where’s the dignity?

Trust me when I say that many of us think that zombies of the brain-sucking variety have long since shown up on your subway ride.

I realize that he’s probably just trying to be cute here. Sadly, the only real counterargument offered in the review itself is basically that you can put all kinds of crazy stuff in books for kids. I’m also pretty curious as to whether he’s read enough YA to declare something "one of the most imaginative young adult novels of the post-Potter era."

Though, in this case, I actually agree and am glad to see Un Lun Dun getting some love.

And this is interesting — a plug for Nine Hundred Grandmothers is always a good thing. (Via Scott Edelman.)

10 thoughts on “Dept. of Gimme a F*&!ing Break”

  1. His attitude towards writing for children and young adults is extremely problematic. It’s as if he’s saying books for children and teenagers are unimportant, which is like saying children and teenagers are unimportant. I wonder if he was ever a kid himself.
    Perhaps he’s only viewing it from the perspective of an adult fan of sf who is annoyed with the fact that YA and kids literature has become so popular in comparison to the adult sf. I can sympathize with that view in a way, but without needing to knock down YA and kid’s lit itself in order to feel better. It’s just so…bully-ish in a way, isn’t it?

  2. What really really frustrates me about this is that it is okay to get away with it. He feels comfortable throwing these comments out there – is very nearly proud to throw them out there – and has no concern beyond his own self satisfaction.
    Chris is dead on with his comment; Itzkoff is insulting not only the authors of YA SFF but more importantly the teen readers. He thinks he is that much more worthy of respect merely because he is older. How frustrating.
    And hey – I wonder how Ray Bradbury would react to questions from Itzkoff on why he lowered himself to write Something Wicked This Way Comes?

  3. You guys are dead on. I’d put the average teen reader up against Itzkoff and his posturing any day. After all, I seem to remember someone’s top 10 list containing a whole bunch of stuff he must have read when he was a teenager or barely in his 20s.

  4. Itzkoff’s article made me furious. And you, Gwenda, are the perfect person to write a letter to the Times complaining about it. Go, Gwenda!!

  5. Between him and Charles McGrath’s OpEd piece on genre writing (shocking revelation: Henry James wrote a ghost story??? WTF!!!) I think the NYTBR needs to have its head examined. Do these guys actually read anything at all? I was so pissed off I fired off an intemperate letter to the editor, something I always think about but NEVER have done before. I know they won’t publish it, BUT I FEEL BETTER. Go for it, Gewnda!

  6. Hasn’t Itzkoff pulled stunts like this (or been wildly mis-assigned a review this way) before? Looks to me like the NYT is just trying to use controversy to attract page views.

Comments are closed.

Scroll to Top