Glenn Beck and Books for Boys

Let me start by identifying my biases.

A) I am not a Glenn Beck fan, he is loud and obnoxious, and even if I very occasionally agree with him I do not like how he gets there.

B) One of my BIGGEST pet peeves is when people in the media are shilling a book, or discussing children’s and YA lit and it becomes crystal clear they have no idea what they are talking about.

Bookshelves of Doom brought me to Guys Lit Wire where there was a thoughtful post, and some thoughtful comments on a Glenn Beck segment on books for boys.

So what is wrong with this? Well let me count the ways.

1) There has already been quite a bit said about the emasculating comment. There are a number of books in which boys are heroes, who are strong, and who experience adventure. Quite often there is a girl by their side, is that all it takes to be emasculating? For example: Percy Jackson series, or how about Alex Rider? John Flanagan’s The Ranger Apprentice? And of course – Harry Potter. His statement belies an ignorance about the depth and richness of the field.

2) Value and virtue are buzzwords that always make me say “uh-oh” because they are usually followed by an attack on YA lit as if there are no values and virtues. As if it is not only vapid, but immoral. And quite often they are in the mouths of someone getting ready to request the removal of books from a classroom or a library. Now that is a gross generalization and I know it, but I cannot resist that knee-jerk reaction. I am merely going to give myself credit for recognizing it as knee-jerk.

3) “I know this is for teenagers. I read it cover to cover.” is one of the most insulting attitudes out there. As if something written for teenagers cannot possibly be of interest to adults, and yet why do we not consider the converse – that something written for adults cannot possibly be interesting to teens? Because we know that is not remotely true.

4) Attacks on political correctness seem outdated to me. It seems as if our children have moved beyond the concerns of political correctness, not hesitating to believe that girls and boys can fight side by side, bringing their own strength to the adventure. Again – Harry Potter and Hermione are fully realized characters with their own strengths, and without each of them Harry would not have been successful time and again. (BTW – I never read Book 7 because well, I didn’t want to, lets leave it at that.)

5) Treasure Island????? Still in print. Not sure about the other one he mentioned.

6) I could be wrong, and I don’t remember how old Beck’s kid is, but the art work strikes me as something for a younger child – not a teen. BUT I haven’t read the book so it is completely unfair of me to judge it out of context.

7) Ok the whole brother not saving the sister anymore?????? I have no other way to say this – that is a load of crap. Go take a look at the books I’ve mentioned – those are about boys doing the saving. Yes like Harry and Buffy they had a team, but they are still the hero. Oh and what about Airborn? Another boy adventure book – pirates, adventure. And yes the girl is feisty and helpful but Matt is the protagonist, the hero.

8) No great storytellers anymore?  You mean like Philip Pullman (oops sorry Lyra is a girl), or JK Rowling (again I have my issues but I figure she is an author Beck might be familiar with).

I have degenerated into nothing more than disbelief and aggravation.

There is a conversation at Guy’s Lit Wire that may be worth reading.

As a disclaimer – I have not read the book in question so this is NOT about the book, more about my ongoing frustration with media types who in an effort to promote a children’s book wind up doing a disservice to some fine authors and books.

New Directions

Yesterday was my last day at my current P-O-W.  WHen I first started this my imagined audience was the students I worked with, didn’t really turn out that way but that’s ok.  I still wrote for them.  Things are different now, so this may change a little bit in tone.

The Comeback Season

It is late and I should be going to bed. This is a sad book to finish on.

“It’s a kind of sadness that has lodged itself in the back of her throat like a pill that refuses to go down.”

I thought that line summed up Ryan, she is so tenuously holding on. Her father died five years ago and she is finding it difficult to move forward. Her freshman year hasn’t been good. And she is a Cubs fan. Fittingly she is also cautiously hopeful. She meets Nick at the opening day of Wrigley Field. And in him there is more to hope for, which means of course tragedy is on the horizon. Of course, can’t write a book in which being a Cubs fan is a metaphor or a road map to life without tragedy on the horizon. Which I say pretty flippantly because I think in the long run the metaphor, and the conceit of bargaining annoyed me. But there were some pretty moments in Smith’s writing. It was atmospheric, textured, full of the sorrow like that unswallowed pill.

I will post a follow up tomorrow but here is how I stand -H

This was 246 pages – 3 hrs 20 min Totals – 2486 pages (not counting the 32 on the book I gave up on) and 26 hrs 50 min. Less pages than last year but no books in verse either.

Books read – 9, Blog Entries 8 – cuz I combined 2 books.

Best Book – My Most Excellent Year

Least Fave -ummmmm other than the one I put down???  Liked them all enough.

My Most Excellent Year

. . .is a most excellent book.  A laugh out loud, cry a little, believe in the magic of people kind of book.  And I say that even though I hate Red Sox fans, before ’04 I thought they were neurotic whiners, and now they are just smugly neurotic which is a difficult feat to pull off.  And  one of the main characters is not only a Red Sox fan he is named after some unfortunate hitter who got hit in the face with a fast ball, apparently he (the player) was quite the hitter beforehand and well, getting hit in the head with a fastball can ruin a career but this one made a fairly remarkable comeback.   And so the Red Sox plays prominently into this but its Boston so the Kennedy’s do as well, and then there is Mary Poppins.  God, I hope Julie Andrews is half the person they make her out to be in this book.  Seriously.

Told my 3 different people – TC, Augie, and Ali and peppered with IMS and emails from various other people My Most Excellent Year is charming.  However after the third read aloud to my ever so patient husband because I had laughed aloud he asked me “Is that really a Ya book?  because would teens get the references?”  which to be fair he had a point but since it was really about relationships I am not sure it’d matter too much.  But it is much more fun when you do understand the argument about JFK and Bobby Kennedy, and Bucky Fucking Dent (i mean i know all you east coast baseball types get it but come on), and Liza Minelli and well there is more such as All About Eve and Ingrid Bergman and Manzanar and baseball.  And Buck Weaver, and how John Cusak playing Buck Weaver probably did more for his reputation than anything else (and yes, he got screwed – Buck Weaver that is).

OK Pages – 403, Time 3.5 hours

My Lost and Found Life

Ashley was the rich homecoming queen with $300 jeans, $500 purses, and an easy life.  Until her mother disappears, accused of embezzling a million dollars.  Now she is losing everything – her friends, her home, her future.  And so it is time to fins a way to live, which is how she ends up living in a trailer behind a gas station and working in a coffee shop.  Ashley never really struck me as a roll over kind of girl so it isn’t all that surprising that she is a survivor, and prett successful at it.  But in truth it is probably on in books or movies that you survive that well, if you call living in a RV with no water or electricity surviving well.  Its just she does have people step up to help her out.  I guess that could happen.  And no one goes too out of their way.  Her friend Nic’s mom is a cardboard villian of the finest order, but the rest of the cast seem like real people.  I didn’t have to suspend disbelief too much.

I think I need a break.

312 pages, 3.5 hours Totals – Pages 1837 Time 20.5 hrs

How Not to Be Popular

I never finished Stargirl, she just annoyed me a little too much.  Maggie’s attempts to be not popular, which backfire, are a little more, well real.  They are selfish, and hurtful, and as she finally realizes not all that different than trying to be popular.  I get it, here she is on her 10th high school!!!!  that is a lot of coming and going, a lot of leaving.  And she is 100% convinced this is another temporary stop.  This is a weird kind of take off on the teen movie where the unpopular girl becomes popular, John Hughes-like.  In my generation it was Pretty in Pink (well, sort of) and wasn’t there some move with Rachel Leigh Cook and Freddie Prinz Jr.?  Reading this felt like watching a movie.  Which isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy it, because I did.  I liked all the “characters” but it did have an unrealistic Hollywood movie tone to it.    Who doesn’t enjoy one of those now and then?

Pages :339 Read time : 2 hrs 45 minutes   Totals: Pages 1529 Time 17hrs (give or take 5 min)

Metaphors

I am putting Starcrossed down after 32 pages because a) the narrator is way too much of a drama queen even for me and b) the are too many metaphors and similies. It reads like a middle schoolers writing project to include at least 10 metaphors and similies in a paper.