31 May 2011

And What Did You Learn In School Today?

I see that Georgina Bloomberg (who?) has written a young adult novel that The New York Times suggests opens a window onto the private life of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. I see that Georgina Bloomberg has been given a two-book contract by Bloomsbury Books though she seems to have had no experience whatsoever as an author. Indeed, for this work she seems to have required the services of a co-author, and in the article even belittles whatever little success she seems to have had in education. This reminds me of George Bush’s boast that he was a C student at college. So much for the idea of the necessity for intellect, and talent, and even effort. 
The publication of The A Circuit means, of course, that another young adult novel will not only not be published, but probably has not even been read. Someone’s effort has been not merely denied but ignored. Time is, riches regardless, a limited quantity, and even editors have only twenty-four hours in a day to read new work. The publication of The A Circuit denies that writing is an art that must be struggled with, learned and practiced; instead, the publication of this novel suggests that effort and skill have equal power to influence and social position. The publication of The A Circuit mocks the effort of budding (and experienced) writers who daily practice their art and struggle too often fruitlessly to find a publisher. All the hard work that writing requires, all the struggle in which one engages to perfect the writing art, all the effort it takes to publish a work anywhere, appears quite senseless when the publication of The A Circuit means that success derives not from talent and hard work but from the authority of social connections, and that revelation of a few dirty secrets about the life of someone of privilege trumps any honest exploration of a complex humanity even if it is contemptuously referred to as ‘young adult.’  I am incensed as a writer, as a scholar, and as a teacher, that the publication of The A Circuit derives not from its quality but from its source, and that the privileged nature of that source has purchased for it the suspension of the judgment of a reputable publishing house that now wishes to compete with Us and People and The National Enquirer for the dissemination of basically idle gossip. 
The book, purportedly a young adult novel, is being discussed for its window into the private life of the extremely wealthy (and private) life of Michael Bloomberg, and not for its insight into the lives of young adults, most of whom I know are not professional horse-jumpers attending elite private boarding schools, and are certainly not the offspring of Wall Street billionaires. Georgina Bloomberg’s book purports to be a tell-all novel that I suppose is published now to compete with the ubiquitous tell-all memoirs that cover the shelves and tables of our bookstores. I suspect we shall soon see a plethora of such work slithering out of the homes of the rich and famous, displacing the hard wrung efforts of people who have studied and struggled with their art. These tell-all books will sell not for the quality of their writing or their insight into life, but will be purchased for their hint of scandal. This bookand these books that will follow as the day the nightwill not inspire the imaginations and intellects of a ‘young adult’ reading public, nor will they offer any insight or comfort to their lives, but will appeal rather to our degraded social world’s acquired quest to gawp even enviously into the inside and privileged lives of the rich and famous. This publication by Bloomsbury will not offer our young adults literature that challenges and enriches their lives, but rather, one which panders to baser desires and capacities. These books will only make the rest of us less visible and more powerless than we have become at present. 
And then someone in high office, indeed, even in the office of the Mayor of New York, will complain that the schools are failing and that our teachers are inadequate. 
Even at the hair stylist and the dentist, I am forgoing the gossip rags. That’s it. I’m done. Be gone!


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