Suspend Your Disbelief

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Are You There, Author? It's Me, A Lazy Student

As we’ve seen of late, sometimes professional book reviewers (or, rather, less-than-professional ones) forget that Authors Are People, Too. Well, so do book-reviewing students. Behold this exchange, in which a student turned to Yahoo! Answers to help write his book report on DC Pierson‘s The Boy Who Couldn’t Sleep and Never Had To… and the author responded. Pierson posted the kid’s question and his response on his Tumblr feed, giving the kid some reasons he might actually want to read the book and suggesting strategies for doing it. Here’s an excerpt:

I’m not going to sit here and act like I didn’t sometimes not read assigned books for class in high school. Even though it’s referenced once in my book, the book you’re avoiding reading, I’ve never actually read “The Scarlet Letter.” So I’m sympatheic to your plight. But I think you’ll find there’s a ton more sex, swearing, and drugs in my book than anything else you have been or will be assigned in high school, and I don’t mean in the way your teacher will tell you “You know, Shakespeare has more sex and violence than an R-rated movie!”

No word on whether the kid ended up reading the book after all—but I gotta think it’s a bit more likely, no? (Aside: I’m not sure if I were the author, I’d be able to respond so kindly and sincerely! Kudos to Pierson for that.) Via.

Further Reading:

Join the Discussion

  • I’ve never read DC Pierson, but I’m very tempted to read this book now, not because of the sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll, but because of his generosity of spirit. He could’ve gone for the cheap shot, but instead he (maybe) planted the idea in one kid that reading might just be a fun thing.

    I blog a lot of short stories, and here are some of the search terms I’ve found in my stats (all sic):

    – the good samaritan by thomas mcguane give me the setting,characters,summary and moral lesson
    [and, the next day,]
    thomas mcguane on “the good samaritan” give me the moral lesson

    – Is the ascent by ron rash third person limited omniscient [if you know the term and can even spell it correctly, shouldn’t you be able to tell?]

    – write 3 questions about the story axis by, alice munro that don’t alow the anwser to simply be a “yes” or “no” answer [maybe she’s designing a test?]

    – cousins charles baxter criticism comments, what is the main idea of the cousins by baxter, interpretation “the cousins” charles baxter [casting a broad net]

    – what is the symbol in the paranoia by said sayrafiezadeh?

    – all boy by lori ostlund what makes the first paragraph interesting [not much, apparently]

    – what was the theme of “the sleep” by horrocks

    I wish I knew who these people are. I’d love to talk with someone about the moral lesson of “The Good Samaritan,” and I came up with five questions on the Munro without even pausing for breath. I’m not sure I could answer most of them the way a teacher would want them answered – I was a little hazy on “The Cousins” and most of “Paranoia” didn’t click until I read “A Brief Encounter With The Enemy.” That’s one reason I blog, it forces me to articulate what I see in a story, and where/how/why. Sometimes themes and symbols jump out at me, and sometimes they don’t; I don’t concentrate on any format. But I still love reading. Some of my favorite stories are those I don’t quite grasp, and I love going back to them later and seeing if things are any clearer. So I hope maybe that kid, seeing that an author is a person, too, might find himself “too busy” with a book someday. And I give credit to DC Pierson for making that a little more likely.

  • Celeste Ng

    Karen, what an insightful post. It makes me wonder if some of these people–be they students or adults–might just need a little nudge, a tiny seed planted in their minds that reading might actually be something to enjoy, rather than something to be skipped if at all possible.

    Thanks so much for writing. I, too, am very interested to read Pierson’s work now because of his generosity of spirit.

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