Friday, July 28, 2023

A YA Roundup Page

The Hub, a Young Adult Library Services Blog, has a list of nominees for best books for young adults. What is striking here is that they include a description of each book, making this a very functional list. It says it is a summer edition, so presumably there are or will be other lists.

Included on the list is This is Not a Personal Statement by Tracy Badua, which I read last winter

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

How Much Do Writers Need To Be Concerned About AI?

I have not been paying much attention to this whole AI thing. A few months ago, a Facebook friend who writes about finances for musicians wrote an article on the subject and then did whatever magic has to be done to have an AI write the same thing to see how they compared. The AI version read, to me, like those on-line articles/blog posts written by people who have little knowledge of a subject and are just cranking out material to sell hither and yon. It hit basic points, but provided no depth or detail. Perhaps ringard, if, like me, you are watching the first season of Emily in Paris. Basic, lame. 

Then yesterday another Facebook friend posted a link to Beware AI-produced Children's Books! at Sonderbooks. In this piece, Sondra Eklund describes how she came to purchase an AI book for her library and what she found when she read it.

"The book starts out extremely repetitive and very poorly worded. There's no logical progression between sentences, and some sentences repeat on later pages, except often with contradictory information or in a slightly different form. It's got stock photo images and clip art text pages."

Really, you need to read her whole post.

I still tend to feel that if AI-generated books are this bad, they aren't going to be anything to worry about in the long run. This will cause excitement for a while, then just disappear.

But I've only seen two samples, and two is not a statistically significant number. Also, I've heard rumors that this stuff will get better.

So I'm not concerned...yet.

Thursday, July 13, 2023

Do Teenagers Read Jane Eyre?

My favorite adaptation of JE
I've been thinking about Jane Eyre recently, which led me to ponder whether or not teenagers read it and whether or not it is promoted to them as YA.

I first read Jane Eyre when I was a teenager and wasn't that fond of it. Most people recall the madwoman in the attic or the house on fire business from Jane. I recalled Jane sitting off to the side at a party. That probably speaks volumes about my adolescence. I didn't read it again until after The Eyre Affair. Then I was very taken with it. 

How I came to read it as a teenager, I do not know. It definitely was not part of a class in either high school or college. YA was just getting started in my youth, and I barely recall being aware of it or reading it. Thus, I stumbled into things like Jane Eyre and adult thrillers. 

I recently found this article arguing that Jane Eyre is a YA novel. I think that's a very tough sell.

YA is a creation of the late 20th century, when very few people of a YA age had to make a living and life for themselves, and that's still the case. The whole coming of age cliche that's such a big deal in YA--some event in an adolescent life that marks the realization of entering adulthood-- probably comes early in Jane Eyre when Jane is left to fend for herself at school. She's well past that and is a flawed but highly principled adult woman through most of the book.

Holding out for a husband who doesn't require you to lower your standards of conduct or enslave yourself to him is not a classic YA situation. Neither is coming to terms with loving a far from perfect man. I come down on the side of Jane Eyre being an adult book that teenagers read, which is much different from being a Young Adult book. 


Monday, July 10, 2023

Getting Serious About Humor: Using A Format While Writing Humor

I'd heard of Texts From Jane Eyre by Mallory Ortberg (Daniel M. Lavery) some time ago and was delighted to stumble upon it earlier this summer. Texts From Jane Eyre is not a memoir. It is not fiction. It is humorous interactions between known literary characters, who are not necessarily humorous in their original incarnations. 

Oh, and these interactions are also all written as texts.

How funny you find these texts will probably be determined by how familiar you are with the original books that inspired them. The Cormac McCarthy and Atlas Shrugged texts were pretty much lost on me. However, I'm not that knowledgeable about Wuthering Heights and thought those texts were hysterical. I don't even like Harry Potter and those texts were not just good but addressed some issues I have with those books. 

I think this book would be a hit in high school and college libraries where there are plenty of people reading books with the characters texting here. Also, a good gift for English majors.

My Hermit Crab Argument

I am going to argue that Texts From Jane Eyre is written using a hermit crab format. By which I mean the author borrows a form from a particular type of writing the way hermit crabs borrow shells. I will say more about this someday in the future, either here or somewhere else.

If Jane Austen Got Feedback From Some Guy In A Writing Workshop  by Shannon Reed is another humor piece I believe uses a hermit crab form.

Monday, July 03, 2023

Some New Picture Books Coming In Two Good Series

 Facebook friend Valerie Bolling has two new picture books coming out in August. Here's an appreciation of two of her earlier books that suggest the new ones are something to look forward to.

The first new book is Bing, Bop, Bam, Time to Jam, illustrated by Sabrena Khadija. It's part of Valerie's Fun in the City series. The first offering in that series, Ride, Roll, Run, Time for Fun, also illustrated by Khadija, is about a diverse group of kids who have been released from school for the day. It is time for them to have fun. We're talking minimal words here with some eye-popping artwork. I don't know enough about art to be able to define or label it, but maybe that's just as well. It's terrific. 

Valerie's second book coming out next month is Together We Swim with illustrations by Kahlani Juanita.  This title is the second in her Together Series, the first being Together We Ride, also illustrated by Juanita. Together We Ride is another beautifully illustrated book, though in a very different style. It also has little text, though there's a narrative story here told between word and picture, while Ride, Roll, Run, Time for Fun! is more experiential.

We still have very young children in our family, and I'm a much bigger fan of books that can grab and engage that age-group's minds with story, words, and images than I used to be. I was very taken with these books and look forward to the next books by this author and these illustrators.

The August, 2023 Books And The Book Launch

A book launch celebration for both books will be held on Saturday, August 12 at 10 AM at the New Canaan Library in New Canaan, Connecticut.