Ruth Graham & YA literature

The nice thing about blogging and ‘feature writing’ is that you really don’t need to know anything about your subject – you just have to have an opinion.  Ruth Graham is a case in point.

In her article, which I understand has gone viral on facebook, she suggests that while you should be free to read whatever you want, you should “be embarrassed when what you are reading was written for children”.  My opinion, worth something only to me, is that Ms Graham should be embarrassed that she wrote the article.

I think she has something against one or two books in particular and so has decided to paint the entire YA group of literature as somehow not worthy of an adult’s time.  She endorses a statement made by Jen Doll, “YA aims to be pleasurable”, by saying that “YA endings are uniformly satisfying .. .emblematic of the fact that the emotional and moral ambiguity of adult fiction—of the real world—is nowhere in evidence in YA. fiction.”  (Is she for real?)

She also feels that  “if they (adults) are substituting maudlin teen dramas for the complexity of great adult literature, then they are missing something. ”

Books in the ‘maudlin teen drama’ genre must include The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath,  I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou,  The Giver by Lois Lowry, The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers by Dumas, Treasure Island by R.L. Stevenson, Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, Catcher in the Rye by Salinger, Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn by Twain, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman, The Boy in Striped Pajamas by John Boyne, The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing Traitor to the Nation by M.T. Anderson, The Call of the Wild by Jack London…  and I think I have missed a few!

“Uniformly satisfying”?  YA literature deals with war, racism, hunger, slavery, disease, rape, incest, greed, religious prejudice.  At the end of some you cry, at the end of others you are angry,  and yes, at the end of some you are smiling.  Maybe if they were all simple ‘romance’ and books filled with blue skies and birds singing, YA literature wouldn’t contain the highest percentage of banned books.

I’d like to let Ms. Graham know that there are some pretty maudlin adult fiction books out there and it is really wrong, a wrong that any writer should by horrified by, to tar an entire genre of literature just because she doesn’t feel a couple of popular books at the moment are great literature.

I’m an adult, in fact I’m older than Ms. Graham, and my statement is that “If you haven’t looked on the shelves at the library in the junior and young adult sections you should be ashamed because you are missing some great books.





Bouchercon 2013 ~ A Short Report

I am very happy, but totally exhausted.  We decided to miss the final morning of Bouchercon as I was so tired I couldn’t move and we have been driving back and forth.

It’s a wonderful event and I am so glad that we went.  Already we are putting future Bouchercons on our calendar –

Good stuff ~

Wonderful panels, with authors discussing topics from noir mysteries to romantic ones. In each 55 minute time slot there were six panels to choose from so you had wonderful exposure to all sorts of discussions.  The ones that made my favorite list:

She’s Got a Way: Methods of murder with Meredith Anthony, Matthew Clemens, Chris Ewan, Helen Smith and Sarah Weinman. Chris Ewan is one of my favorite mystery writers with his fun series The Good Thief’s Guide to ______name your city.”

Code of Silence: In Fiction you can spill the secrets with George Easter, Matt Coyle, Dana Haynes, Patrick Lee, Mark Sullivan and Keith Thomson.  I will admit that I had not read any books by these authors, but I will!  I immediately went to the book room and bought one of Dana Haynes books.  He made me fall in love with his female character and I haven’t even read the book yet.  Patrick Lee is one of the funniest men I have seen in ages, so I have to get one of his.  Mark Sullivan has been writing books with James Patterson and I have read one of those, but I am now on the look-out for some that he has done alone.

Somewhere Along the Line: Guess the true first line was so much fun.  Run like a game show the panelists had made up new first lines to mysteries and they tried to stump the audience.  Funny, funny ladies that included Deborah Crombie, Hallie Ephron, and Julia Spencer-Fleming.

And So It Goes: Beyond Doyle and Holmes had Lyndsay Faye, author of Dust and Shadow: An Account of the Ripper Killings by Dr. John H. Watson, as a member of the panel.  Ms Faye is very knowledgeable about the Canon and clearly has great affection for Dr. Watson.  It was an interesting 55 minutes.

There were other panels I attended – from noir, hard-boiled, to female characters, but it’s all too much to mention them all.

Meeting and talking with your favorite authors!

I had a chance to meet and talk with Julia Spencer-Fleming, Frankie J. Bailey, Cara Black, Dana Haynes, Stanley Trollop (the Stanley in Michael Stanley author of the Detective Kubu series, Chris Ewan and others. 

Book Give-aways and Book Buying ~  As you checked in the registration desk you were given a BIG bag stuffed with books, and there were some wonderful book sellers present, so all in all I lugged home over 40 books!

Awards:  Being present at the Private Eye Writers dinner and awards night on Friday – got to meet Robert Randisi, who writes those fun Rat Pack mysteries amongst lots of other stuff.  They announced the Macavity, Berry and Shamus awards, and then on Saturday the Anthony Awards were announced.  A Life Time Achievement Award went to Sue Grafton,  It was joked that it might be pre-mature since she hasn’t finished the alphabet yet, but promised she would.  She also assured all her fans that nothing bad (or fatal) would happen to the characters that everyone has come to know and love.

Steve Hamilton – writer of Alex McKnight – one of the men I would want at my front door if I were in real trouble – was a wonderful Toastmaster throughout the event.

It was a great three days.  If mystery is your thing check out the Bouchercon website for a list of future events

Top Reads of 2012

Top Reads of 2012

It’s that time again to figure out what books I enjoyed the most the past year.  It has been a hectic year and I haven’t been able to post as often as I would have liked.  It is on my ‘New Year Resolutions List’ to be more consistent and post regularly!

It is difficult to pick the “best” books you have read.  What defines “best”?  So my list is merely the books I have enjoyed reading the most.

1.  The books that really moved me:

The Shepherd – Frederick Forsyth  (Very short 54 pages, but it always gives me goose-bumps.)

The Light Between the Oceans – M. L. Stedman (An excellent first novel)

The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander Newfoundland – Jim Defede


2.  The books that made me laugh out loud:

Gracie: A Love Story – George Burns

Three Bags Full – Leonie Swann


3.  Best “Vermont” books:

Waiting for Teddy Williams – Frank Howard Mosher

The Stories – Thomas Weakley


4.  The most fun I had with books:

The Desperado Who Stole Baseball – John H. Ritter

Harry Lipkin, Private Eye – Barry Fantoni

Phoenix Rising – Pip Ballantine


5.  Best introductions to mystery writers that I hadn’t read before:

Death’s Favorite Child – Frankie Y. Bailey

Winter of the Wolf Moon – Steve Hamilton


6.  The Non-Fiction that I enjoyed the most:

Fire on the Beach – David Wright and David Zoby


7.  General Fiction I really enjoyed:

Music of A Life – Andrei Makine


8.  Best Children’s Books:

JP : Mrs. McBloom, Clean Up Your Classroom – Kelly S. DiPucchio

JF: Seaglass Summer – Anjali Banerjee

YA: The Misadventures of Maude March – Audrey Couloumbis


9.  Best Books Added to my Collection:

Sherlock Holmes by Gas-lamp – Phillip A. Shreffler

The Nero Wolfe Cookbook


10.   Best Re-Reads

Nero Wolfe mysteries – Rex Stout


11.  Best Science Fiction/Fantasy/Steampunk books:

Redshirts – John Scalzi

Boneshaker – Cherie Priest


12.  Biggest Disappointments:

Pirate King – Laurie R. King

Shake Off – Mischa Hiller

Published in: on November 19, 2012 at 12:46 pm  Leave a Comment