Saturday, June 25, 2011

a bloom, and the culture of standardization

Happy Bookstore Day.

That's not all.

I needed to add something to what I said yesterday about "grownups" who read, and Young Adult literature, since I'm going to be talking today with a bunch of smart people about books and stuff. And eating cake.

Young Adult literature not only represents an opportunity to catch glimpses of things that lie between the stark fringes of the extremes, but, as an art form (and I'm going to go rinse out my mouth for using that term because I really don't like how condescending and pretentious it sounds) it serves as an expression of a set of cultural values which have not yet been diluted and constrained by bubble-in number-two-pencil tests.

And that's another underlying sentiment that echoes loudly enough beneath the text of all these recent pieces assailing the current state of literature: The specter of Standardization.

The most vocal champions of the all-or-nothing, I-know-what's-good-for-everyone, black-or-white movement are also those who believe that standardizing our youth will allow us to rise up and conquer all our enemies lurking in the shadows, because once kids all think exactly the same and can bubble in standardized math tests with the exact same levels of proficiency, we will arrive at Happy Future Land.

So, naturally, their faith in the religion of standardization is going to bleed over into the arts as well.

Kids, put down your number-2 pencils.

Break them.

Go outside.


So... Today is Bookstore Day, and I'm going to be at Vroman's in Pasadena with some amazing authors and book people.

I will bring goods.

And nothing that requires bubble-in contemplation.

Here's all the info on YA in Bloom.

Hope to see you in Pasadena.