Suspend Your Disbelief

Posts Tagged ‘YA-lit’

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The Beginners, by Rebecca Wolff

A bookish fifteen-year-old breaches taboos in the small New England town of Wick. Poet Rebecca Wolff’s masterful first novel is an Appalachian folk ballad rendered gothic–full of sex and ghosts, mixing caution and temptation, obsessed with origins but somehow timeless.

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Is there space for "GAY" in "YA"?

What if an agent agreed to represent your book–IF you changed the main character from gay to straight? That’s what happened to writers Sherwood Smith and Rachel Manija Brown and their YA novel, Stranger, according to a post they wrote in Publisher’s Weekly: Our novel, Stranger, has five viewpoint characters; one, Yuki Nakamura, is gay and has a boyfriend. Yuki’s romance, like the heterosexual ones in the novel, involves nothing more explicit than kissing. An agent from a major agency, one which represents a bestselling YA novel in the same genre as ours, called us. The agent offered to sign […]

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Does YA fiction lead to dark thoughts, or do dark thoughts lead to YA fiction?

Which came first, the moody teen, or the YA fiction that moody teens often gravitate towards? Linda Holmes of NPR responds to a recent Wall Street Journal editorial that criticized YA fiction for being “too dark”: I’m more intrigued by the aspirational nature of the quaint but sad idea that teenagers, if you don’t give them The Hunger Games, can be effectively surrounded by images of joy and beauty. While the WSJ piece refers to the YA fiction view of the world as a funhouse mirror, I fear that what’s distorted is the vision of being a teenager that suggests […]

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Fiction, like fishes, turns up in strange dishes.

Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve seen a bunch of stories lately about fiction appearing in unusual places. And I like it. First, the Standard Hotel in New York City plans to provide every guest room with an American classic during during the PEN World Voices Festival (April 25 to May 1). Author Salman Rushdie will be selecting the titles. Wouldn’t it be great if all hotel rooms came with books to read, right next to the coffee maker and mini-fridge? Next, the Telegraph reports that excerpts from Roald Dahl stories will appear on cereal boxes in the UK. The […]

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Can Online Book Clubs Work?

A couple of months ago there was an online kerfuffle after Bitch Magazine posted a list of 100 feminist YA books, and then removed three books from that list after a few commenters complained about them, for various reasons. Then other commenters cried censorship, including some other authors on the list who asked to be removed. You can read our original post about the melee here, and, should you dare, the 432 original comments here. To soothe and engage, Bitch decided to let readers vote on five books that would become an online YA book club. On the first Friday […]

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99 problems… but a snitch ain't one

Once again, fiction becomes reality—sort of. The wizard sport Quidditch, from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series1, has made its way into the real world. The International Quidditch Association “serves to promote Quidditch as a new sport and lead outreach programs to increase athletic participation among children and young adults and bring magic to communities.” According to the organization’s website, “Muggle Quidditch,” or “Ground Quidditch,” began in 2005 as an intramural league at Middlebury College in Vermont. The rules were adapted from JK Rowling’s Harry Potter novels by Alexander Manshel, the first Quidditch Commissioner. […] Since then the IQA has helped […]

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Don't just Bitch, join the conversation

Recently Bitch Magazine published a list, “100 Young Adult Books for the Feminist Reader,” and it includes a lot of great titles I was happy to be reminded of, including classics like A Wrinkle in Time, Harriet the Spy, and The Golden Compass, as well as novels by Ursula LeGuin, Judy Blume, Cynthia Voigt, and other very contemporary selections like The Hunger Games and Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies. I was surprised by the number of books on the list I hadn’t read, including three titles (Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce, Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan, and Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth […]

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How old is too old for YA*?

That’s what Pamela Paul wants to know in her recent New York Times essay. Observes Paul: But big type and short, plot-driven chapters aside, the erosion of age-­determined book categories, initiated by Harry Potter, has been hastened along by an influx of crossover authors like Stephenie Meyer and interlopers like Sherman Alexie, James Patterson, Francine Prose, Carl Hiaasen and John Grisham, to name just a few stars from across the spectrum of adult fiction who have turned to writing Y.A. According to surveys by the Codex Group, a consultant to the publishing industry, 47 percent of 18- to 24-year-old women […]

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I have an MFA in Fiction and a Master's in Vampire Studies

How do you know when vampire lit has reached critical mass? When it gets an academic conference. Vampire literature is now receiving some scholarly attention with a conference at the University of Hertfordshire in the UK. Despite the smirk factor, the conference—”Open Graves, Open Minds: Vampires and the Undead in Modern Culture”— has some serious intellectual heft: The aim of the conference is to relate the undead in literature, art, and other media to questions concerning gender, technology, consumption, and social change. […] The irony of creatures with no reflection becoming such a pervasive reflection of modern culture pleases in […]