Miscellany: authors vs. works, dystopian YA lit at the New Yorker, and online reputation management

June 14, 2010

Wired’s Mr. Know-It-All argues for differentiating the author from the work in a recent column and also touches on how hard it is to keep kids from reading what they want:

The bottom line is that many a great author has been a lout. Yes, it’s disappointing to learn that one of your literary idols doesn’t share your values. But that doesn’t negate his talent for mixing philosophical heft with orbital bombardment. And besides, any ban you impose will likely backfire. Kids dig anything that’s taboo, and books are pretty easy to obtain. (At least until the firemen come.)

The first statement in the Library Bill of Rights says in part, “[m]aterials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.” I struggle with this sometimes because as an informed consumer, I don’t want my money to support things with which I don’t agree, but as a librarian I understand that we need to be able to differentiate the work from its creator.

Since I was a teen myself, dystopian novels have been my favorite, so it’s been exciting to see so many–and so many good ones–published in the last few years. Laura Miller’s article today in the New Yorker, “Fresh Hell,” she discusses the “recent boom in dystopian fiction for young people,” pointing to the Hunger Games trilogy (just 71 more days until MOCKINGJAY comes out!), the Uglies trilogy, THE MAZE RUNNER, INCARCERON, THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH, LITTLE BROTHER, FEED, and THE KNIFE OF NEVER LETTING GO as examples. She recognizes that dystopian lit has been part of the YA landscape for decades (specifically naming THE HOUSE OF STAIRS–one of my favorites as a teen!–and THE GIVER) but writes, “The world of our hovered-over teens and preteens may be safer, but it’s also less conducive to adventure, and therefore to adventure stories,” and wonders if this is the reason dystopian lit is seeing a surge in popularity. Miller notes that YA dystopian lit tends to be less soul-crushing than dystopian novels for adults, and using THE HUNGER GAMES and UGLIES as examples, draws parallels between YA dystopian narratives and the adolescent experience. It’s an interesting read and is also another example of how adults are noticing–and reading–more YA lit than ever before.

A graph showing what percentage of respondents said they took steps to limit the information about them that appeared on the Internet, sorted by age. Young people are the most likely to do so and seniors are the least likely.

The Pew Internet & American Life Project has another report out on young adults and tech; this one finds that young adults (actual adults ages 18-29 in this case, not teens) are the most likely of all age groups surveyed to actively manage their online reputations. (The graph I’ve included here is just one dimension of online reputation management.) We change privacy settings, we Google ourselves, and we limit who can see our profiles. A lot of the time when we talk about teens and tech, we talk about making sure they’re safe online, but it sounds like seniors are the ones we need to be talking to about online reputation management: just 20% of respondents ages 65+ take steps to limit what information about them appears online.

And finally, another post from Offbeat Earth that shows some really amazing art made with books and pages from books. The one with the octopus is my favorite!

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2 Comments Leave a Comment

  • 1. Bill  |  June 15, 2010 at 1:37 AM

    For more on the conflict between loving the work and hating the creator, talk to anyone who has ever tried to enjoy Wagner.

  • 2. Librarified » Misce&hellip  |  July 1, 2010 at 10:22 PM

    [...] recently linked to Laura Miller’s New Yorker article on dystopian YA lit; Kaitlin Ward of YA Highway responded to that with a blog post on the difference between dystopian [...]

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