<$BlogRSDURL$> Spontaneous Things: Karina Sumner-Smith's Blog
Friday, February 21, 2003

I am feeling somewhat disillusioned this evening. Not with life--that's lovely right now, thank you. I'm mainly irritated with my reading material of late.

American Gods, for example. I heard that this was an excellent book, an amazing book, a creative and exciting and daring book. Quite frankly, I thought it was boring. Was this supposed to be something new? Sorry, all the shine and polish must have worn away before this novel reached me.

Perhaps my dissatisfaction with this book can best be summarized in these lines:

It starts to rain, and her high heels slip and twist beneath her. She kicks them off, and runs, soaked to the skin, looking for somewhere she can get off the road. She's scared. She has power, true, but it's hunger-magic, cunt-magic. (Gaiman 377-378)

Where to begin? The terminology? The manner of her death, which follows? The way this represents Gaiman's poor fumbling representation of goddesses throughout the entire novel? Why don't we just finish off this lovely passage of complete religious misinterpretation by calling her a temple prostitute and be done with it?


I've been reading a lot of YA books, too, and am getting pretty sick of protagonists who have an abusive and/or alcoholic parent. These writers are putting these characters into the story not because it helps the story, but because it's easy. Why does the main character feel unloved? Because his father's abusive. Why is the main character unhappy with her life? Because her mother drinks too much. Why does the main character have no friends? Because she's too embarrassed to let anyone know that her Dad's a drunk. Why does the main character run away? Because his Dad hits him, and he just can't take it anymore. As if the only reason for an unhappiness during childhood is abuse.

I have read some YA novels in which abuse is an integral part of the story; novels that deal with these issues in a relevant and powerful manner. I hate it when abuse is just tossed in because it's more convenient than creating a complex character. And I hate it when the abusive/drunken parent is simply a caricature of every Mean, Horrible Adult that the author can think of.

I remember disliking YA novels back when I was their target audience. If they're half as depressing and irritatingly predictable as some of the ones I've read recently, then no wonder.

How do these things not only get published, but win awards?

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 11:51 PM


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