Archive for July, 2006

July 28, 2006

What's Wrong With This Picture?

Meet Otis, star of Nickelodeon’s forthcoming movie Barnyard, voiced by actor Kevin James. Apparently, no one on the film thought the fact that cows are by definition female was a fact that should get in the way of their concept. (Barnyard animals like to party when humans aren’t looking.) Okay, Webster’s on-line offers “a domestic bovine animal regardless of sex or age” as a secondary definition. But Otis here has an udder and udders are mammaries–province of the females of the species. Milk spouts. In the trailer I saw, his father has an udder too. I don’t want to get all semiotic here but that big udder on a male-named and voiced creature makes me think penis. Big, four-spouted penis.

Scary.

Update: Roger Ebert on the transgendered cow.

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July 13, 2006

The Mandatory Happy Ending–Discuss

Polly Shulman opens her review of a new YA novel in last Sunday’s New York Times with this assertion about YA fiction:

Moralizing may have gone out of fashion in adult fiction a century ago, but it remains a staple of children’s literature. The annual awards lists are full of inspiring stories in which a brave and sensitive young person triumphs over modern evils like political oppression, sexism and racism. Though these novels can be beautifully and even subtly written, they rarely leave readers in doubt about their intended message.

She goes on to discuss and praise Linzi Glass’s novel, The Year the Gypsies Came, but finds the ending unconvincing. Shulman suggests that it’s the mandatory “tidy resolution” that trips up the writer.

[T]he tidy resolution, a staple of . . .the 21st-century serious young adult novel . . . lacks conviction, as if Glass doesn’t quite believe in the redemption her genre requires.

I’ve been thinking about this all week.

Fellow YA novelists: Do you feel compelled to provide a “tidy resolution” to your novels? If so, why? Is it editorial pressure? A feeling of obligation toward your young readers?

Readers of YA fiction: Do you expect a “tidy resolution” in the YA books you read?

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July 7, 2006

Writer, Uninterrupted

I’m back from my two-week stint at Hedgebrook.

Funny, the day I traveled back home, Thomas Friedman published a column about how the Internet has turned us all into people who give only “partial attention” to our work, our families, our lives. “Who can think, or write, or innovate under such conditions?”

I wasn’t completely unplugged at Hedgebrook. We had Internet access available. But–and this is key–it wasn’t available in the working and living space of our beautiful cottages. I allowed myself a once-a-day check-in with email. But for the most part, I really was focusing on my current work-in-progress. At about night ten, as I sat down for a couple hours of writing before bed, I felt as though I was inhabiting the world I’d created on the page in a way I haven’t felt for a while.

Evening meals with other residents were wonderful. I met some amazing women.

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