Sunday, 13 December 2009

On children's books

You enjoy good writing? Try Janet Malcolm. It does not matter what she writes about, I will read it. Not least because I always come away with new insights. Here's how her article "Advanced Placement, The wicked joy of the 'Gossip Girl' novels" begins (The New Yorker, 10 March 2008):

As Lolita and Humbert drive past a horrible accident, which has left a shoe lying in the ditch beside a blood-spattered car, the nymphet remarks, “That was the exact type of moccasin I was trying to describe to that jerk in the store.” This is the exact type of black comedy that Cecily von Ziegesar, the author of the best-selling “Gossip Girl” novels for teen-age girls, excels in. Von Ziegesar writes in the language of contemporary youth—things are cool or hot or they so totally suck. But the language is a decoy. The heartlessness of youth is von Ziegesar’s double-edged theme, the object of her mockery—and sympathy. She understands that children are a pleasure-seeking species, and that adolescence is a delicious last gasp (the light is most golden just before the shadows fall) of rightful selfishness and cluelessness. She also knows—as the authors of the best children’s books have known—that children like to read what they don’t entirely understand. Von Ziegesar pulls off the tour de force of wickedly satirizing the young while amusing them. Her designated reader is an adolescent girl, but the reader she seems to have firmly in mind as she writes is a literate, even literary, adult.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

i've read 'psicanalise: a profissao impossivel' by janet malcolm. loved it.