July 17, 2008
Issues of Class~
Sometimes it takes me awhile to get bothered about things, not because I don't have an opinion, but mainly because I know that what is said or done may be *bothering* me, but I can't articulate why. (That's really a great trait for a writer, isnt' it?)
The Horn Book's short blog piece I linked to yesterday about brand name dropping in YA literature really bugged me, because apparently many highly-placed industry people are okay with that practice. However, YA writers are not Judith Krantz. (Unless they are, and apologies to Ms. Krantz if she's written a metric ton of YA lit. I've missed.)
I strongly believe that name dropping contributes to the distortion in reality and panders to an upper class system to which most of us don't even belong. As it is, 'upper middle class' has many members nowadays only belonging by the skin of our teeth, and thousands of young adults and their families, as economic factors kick in, will lose even that dubious distinction, and be flat out poor.
This is not to say that I expect that we should all sit down to pen Dust Bowl memoirs because hard times are about to hit -- not at all. I just feel strongly that name-dropping and normalizing affluence in YA literature creates the wrong idea about young adult literature as a genre and gets far more attention somehow than novels pertaining to lives more ordinary. I find that it's important to me for a young person to read a book and be able to identify -- either to say, "that life is not like mine, but 'hmmm'" or, "that life is like mine, I wonder if I would have made the same choices." It just seems that this engenders much more reflection and discussion than novels larded with references to Chanel and other fashion names a reader may feel sheepish not recognizing. As always, it seems to me that a novel that name-drops is saying more about the author than the characters... but that may just be me being a snob, as books peppered with fashion labels and name-dropping might have perfectly deep and relevant plots and story lines and be written by perfectly self-effacing and modest people.
I just ...don't often find that to be the case.
On the other hand, Mother Reader's Summer Reading Club constantly discusses novels that they don't like because they're "too realistic." So, apparently there's a balance... I just haven't found it yet.
Okay... you've put up with me mini-ranting. Time for some cute overload. Ducks. Dumb, but so cute.