The title is a quote taken from Maxx Barry's new novel Machine Man
. I am completely smitten with all of Barry's work; I've read Company
a dozen times and Syrup
and Jennifer Government
a few times each and every time it's always as good as the first.
Anyway; reading this quote - from chapter seven - reminded me that I have been meaning to write this blog for ages.
I'd like to talk - or maybe rant is a better word - about what we now consider to be acceptable subjects for young adult fiction and its inefficiency in regards to adult fiction.
I've been lucky enough to be on staff on the Burn Bright project
for over a year now. In that time I've been given some of the darkest literature I've read in my almost 24 years of life.
I don't use that statement lightly. Half my considerable bookshelf is filled with writing so dark, depressing, mind altering and generally frakked up that those books stay on lists that have "Caution" in big red letters at the top.
In the last year or so I have come into contact with books for tweens/teens that contain not only zombies and vampires - this decade's big money makers - but subjects including: Child and spouse abuse, rape, murder, suicide, genocide, corruption and exploitation, and many more.
In fact the most recent Terry Pratchett novel And I shall wear midnight
contains in its opening chapters a father who beats his pregnant teenage daughter so hard she miscarries and then the father tries to kill himself.
My question is when did it become suddenly the in thing to dump a steaming pile of reality on kids?
I'm not saying adult themes haven't been in our young adult media for a long time; I grew up watching The Addams Family
and the early Nick cartoons like Ren and Stimpy
. But these were isolated pieces of media and not everyone got hold of them unless they actively looked for them.
Ten years ago I was a teenager; to be accurate six years ago I was still a teenager. This sort of writing was almost unheard of for the teenage market back then.
I was reading above my age group for a long time because I had a taste for messed up fiction; it was my decision to find it and mine to deal with the consequences as a result - including some very messed up dreams - I didn't find stories about teenage girls getting gang raped next to the Harry Potter novels.
Are we just trying to prepare the next generation for the harsh realities of modern life? I really doubt it. Are the current authors just trying to cash in on shocking kids into reading their books? Maybe.
The big question is why isn't our Adult literature working on the same scale as the Young Adult stuff? For every gritty novel released to adults three or four come out for the young adults.
Maybe adults just prefer to live in a fantasy world; from interacting with both groups it seems that the teenagers are more likely to see the world as it really is.
Inefficient. It might be the fault of the authors, the publishing companies or the readers themselves. But I don't see why if we are trying to turn kids into adults we should treat the adults like kids.
Bugger it; I'm going back to reading about cyborgs.