Wednesday, March 3, 2010

cover letters

By Nick Sweeney, Grade 11

So I'm sitting here by the light of the Infinity's dome lamp, blogging with my iPhone because I left my keys inside Mr. Smith's house and he's boarded up his doors and windows after having some kind of grown-up psychological crisis where he wants to quit writing (again).

I've seen him do this dozens of times. Not the plywood part, but the quit writing and going insane part.

It gets so dark here, too. And it's really scary. And I'll confess this: I have never peed outdoors before. It is so barbaric and uncivilized, but I really need to tinkle, so I am trying to keep my mind off it by uploading another post on Mr. Smith's blog.

Extreme discomfort.

Last week, the topic of book covers came up a few times. Mr. Smith said that boys choose books by their covers, and then his grumpy and scary friend, Mr. Grant said that boys would get beaten up if they walked across campus carrying one version of his book's cover. Well, first off, let me say that I think Caine and Sam are totally dreamy -- so if it's the one with Sam on the front, or the one with Caine on the front... well, I have both of those books and, let's just say I'm okay with the prep school look and the poor surfer look.

But then I saw how another author, Tabitha Olson, pointed out that YA covers on books that could have a big appeal for boys sometimes turned boys away because there were pictures on the cover that made you think of girl books.

Well, I don't know where I stand on that, exactly, because I did read two of the three books she gives as examples, but now it does make me wonder why Margo would be on the cover of John Green's Paper Towns when the book was more about a guy named Quentin. And if guys knew how cool and funny Quentin's adventures were, maybe more guys would read that book, even if Mr. Green can't be hurting from a diminished audience.

All that aside, last summer (can you tell I'm trying not to think about making pee?), Mr. Smith told me that a certain huge, nationwide, bookseller chain store was refusing to feature or display Young Adult books unless they had covers that were photographic, as opposed to the old-school illustrated book covers.

I never realized that, but I began digging back through my own book collection, and sure enough, I noticed that what Mr. Smith said was true -- that the vast majority of YA books I owned had photo-like covers, or covers that were made of composite photographs. Even the dreamy ones with Sam and Caine. Maybe the exception was the few fantasies I own, but even some of their covers looked like doctored photos.


The last time I went to the doctor, the nurse gave me a clear plastic cup and asked me to pee in it. I was so mortified by that I couldn't do it, so when I went in that little bathroom, I waited for about 20 minutes and then I filled it with tap water.

I really have to go.

What am I going to do?

This is the worst thing that ever happened to me. Worse than the horse snot or tearing my Gucci slacks.

I can't even concentrate.

When I come back, I'm going to talk about something else Mr. Smith complained about.

But I've got a serious complaint for him.

-- Nick S.