Musings on children's and YA literature, the academy, and the relationship between them, from an English professor and mother.

Monday, March 23, 2009

How Children's Literature Changed my Life

Wow, that sounds portentous, doesn't it? But I mean it quite literally. I have a very different life--ok, a sort of different life--than I had before I was teaching children's literature. One big difference is that these days I occasionally--even, often--write about living authors. One of the big perks, frankly, of being a Victorianist is that the authors are all dead. I mean this in the nicest possible way. They died many years ago, most of them of natural causes, having already written many wonderful (and sometimes not-so-wonderful) books, and I don't have to feel bad about anything I say about them because they don't know I've said it. (Or if they do, I think I'm safe in assuming they don't care.)

When you write about living authors, however, you can't just irresponsibly say whatever you want. (Not that I ever did that, of course...) You feel responsible. You can even occasionally wonder what they think. And, sometimes, you can even find out. Now, so far, this has actually been all good. I still have the message on my voicemail that John Green left me after he read my review of Paper Towns. (Yes, I'm a nerd that way. Or maybe a nerdfighter.) (He liked it. That's why I kept the message.) And the other day Neil Gaiman linked to my column on Coraline (scroll down), and said he liked it, and that made my day.

So actually of course I'm really glad to be writing about living authors. It's exciting and unpredictable. And it makes me feel like part of a community.

I'm giving a talk about Stephenie Meyer this weekend. Do you think she cares?


  1. Wow, how lovely that you are getting some feedback on your wonderful reviews. You deserve it! And how great that you're happy with your choice of profession...and specialization.

    I'm totally snapping, bohemian-style, for you right now. :)

  2. Isn't getting a response from a living writer kind of like what the protagonist of Catcher in the Rye says he wants when he finishes a really good book--to call up the author and talk to him?

  3. I don't know if she cares, but I have two girlfriends who would really care! Obsessed. They are. Why am I talking like Yoda? Anyway, Hi!

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