Last week there was an article in Newsweek titled "Does Jodi Picoult Hurt Literature--Why Is It a Sin to Read for Fun?"*
Well, that was just too good to pass up. If you can, I'd highly recommend the article, but if you don't have time, I can hit the high points for you.
"The young woman with blonde ringlets has a question: where did Jodi get her green-velvet hair scrunchie? Jodi, who has wavy red hair not unlike the blonde's, admits she stole it from her teenage daughter, then says she'll write down the name of the Web site where the blonde can order it."
That is totally my favorite part of book readings, learning where I can buy hair accessories. When I saw the awesome Melissa Bank in person, I didn't waste time with any reading or writing questions. I asked her what makeup she uses.
"But commercial writers such as Picoult are a thorny subject for the self-appointed literature police."
Hello, I'm Citizen Reader, and I'll be your self-appointed literature policewoman today.
"There is a formula to a Picoult book: each takes a controversial ethical issue—"designer babies," high-school shootings, child abuse, the death penalty—and pits sympathetic characters, often family members or best friends, on either side of the debate. "
Actually, that's a very handy summary of every Picoult book ever written.
"On her Web site, a fan in remission from leukemia wrote that she learned a lot more about her disease reading "My Sister's Keeper" than the doctors ever told her."
Actually, I believe that too. But that rather indicates to me more that there is something desperately wrong with our health care system, not that there is anything right about Picoult's writing.
"But it's reductive to lump Picoult in with all bestselling commercial writers. Her prose is smooth and never gets in its own way."
Hello, I'm Citizen Reader, and I'll be your reductive literature policewoman today. Picoult's prose is designed to impart information about the disease of the week she's writing about, and to pull you, by the halter if you balk, from one chapter to the next, which doesn't really equal "smooth."
And, last but not least...wait for it...
"Picoult sees herself more in the school of so-called literary writers such as Sue Miller, who also writes about domestic topics despite frequent downmarket comparisons, especially to "Twilight" author Stephenie Meyer. "In terms of the literary content of the 'Twilight' books, they're totally escapist. I think technically I am maybe a cut above," she says."
Oh, Jodi, Jodi, Jodi. I don't care if you're out there selling hair scrunchies and selling lots of books. But please don't call yourself a literary writer.** And, frankly, I'm no Stephenie Meyer fan, but at least Stephenie had to dream up her story, rather than just ripping it from the day's headlines.
Hm. That WAS fun!
*A big shout-out to Minneapolis Sarah, for bringing this article to my attention.
**I haven't giggled at an author's statement so hard since Jennifer Chiaverini's (she's the author of roughly a million books about ladies who quilt) statement that her writing wasn't formulaic. Um, Jennifer? Your own titles, most of which include the word "quilter," beg to differ.