Saturday, July 29, 2006

This Is Sad

Paul Acampora discovered that the author of the Wall Street Journal essay that shook the Internet is an intern.

Good journalism on Paul's part. The intern...well, here's hoping he lives and learns.

As far as I'm concerned, he didn't do anything wrong by writing an essay that so many people, myself included, disagree with. No, what he did wrong, in my humble opinion, was select a cliched angle for his essay. Trashing kidlit has been done to death. He didn't have anything new to say on the subject.

What if he was told he had to write an essay disparaging summer reading lists? He should have come up with a new angle. He could have suggested, for instance, that summer reading lists shouldn't exist at all. That would have been different. Or he could have written about schools that require students to read a certain number of books each summer off a list and what students have to do to prove they've read them. I have young family members whose first English assignment of the school year related to their summer reading. This meant, of course, that they read a book off the list the weekend before school started.

It's sad to think of this poor young intern just rehashing what older writers have already written. Shouldn't his summer writing experience amounted to something more?

NOTE: This post was revised. I'm not at all certain if a blogger should revise a post, but I was unhappy with one of the paragraphs. And once I start revising, I find it hard to limit myself to one paragraph.


Liz B said...

Not only is trashing kidlit not new; what bothers me about most articles, including this essay, is that rarely are the writers people who have read the actual literature; and when they go for quotes, rarely do they go to people who know about kidlit professionally. Even here, the intern went for the "easy" interview, a former professor, rather than finding someone who is a professor of childrens literature. It was lazy writing all around.

Chris Barton said...

It's interesting to note the varied attitudes toward the intern -- here, he's "poor intern," there, he's "lowly scum." I can empathize with him, but I also hope that he's paying attention to the aftermath and getting more out of this discussion than a narcissistic delight at having stirred things up.

As for revising your posts, I say, "revise away" -- this is a secondary medium supporting your primary medium, and you've got every right and reason to make yourself come off as well as possible. But I also think that letting folks know they're reading a revised entry is the way to go.

Gail Gauthier said...

I revised a paragraph in which I had tried to say something positive about the essayist. But the positive thing I said didn't make sense because it contradicted something I'd said in an earlier post.

I was just trying to think of something balanced and fair to say about the essayist. I tend to feel "poor intern" because I have kids old enough to be interns. I also think that sometimes young peoples' writing skills are greater than their grasp of content. I think they believe that sounding like everyone else, conforming to others' thoughts, makes them sound mature and professional. All it does is make them sound bland. Like this poor intern.