Friday, February 20, 2009
Bookish thought du jour
I've been thinking, as I so frequently do, about books, having just today finished this one. It was recommended by one of my colleagues: we're thinking of doing a novel study based on a book that was recently made into a movie, and this was one I hadn't read. (The others, if you're interested, are "The Golden Compass", "The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe", and "Inkheart".)
The book itself was one of those amazingly good ones... about a nine year old boy who finds himself on the opposite side of a fence from a boy who wears striped pajamas and shares a birthday with him. It was painful to read in parts because the main character, Bruno, is so incredibly naive - he brings food to his friend Shmuel but sometimes he gets hungry on the walk and eats most of it - so blind to the evil around him.
But this is what I wanted to write about today, the interview with the author in the back of the book. John Boyle says this:
"Is it a children's book? no. Is it an adults' book? No. It's a book. It's a story. And the more I grow as a writer, and the more I have conversations about writing with people..., the more I learn about writing and realize that these distinctions - who are these distinctions for? You know who these distinctions are for? They're for bookshops. "Do we put it in this... over on the left-hand side of the shelf, which we call crime? Or over on the right, which we call literary fiction?""
I think he's right. Sometimes, standing in line at the library, or on Amazon with my credit card clutched in my hand, I wonder what I'm doing with all these kids books. I am a sophisticated and intelligent person. I am very well educated. Why am I reading books for children?
I'm reading them because they're not books for children, they're just really really good books.