What’s a Barracuda?

barraChristos Tsiolkas is a master storyteller. He tackles big themes, writes interesting characters, and delivers great dialogue but I want to talk about his ability to spin a yarn.

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People don’t make people, books make people


imageSorry to have been so quiet all week Red Brick Readers. I’ve been at a conference in Seattle for my grown-up job (GUJ) and it’s kept me plenty busy. This post is as much an apology as an excuse to share some sweet photos I took in Seattle. I was actually speaking at said conference and since I’m not a stellar communicator in mediums that don’t allow for stealth hip hop references I spent much of my week standing in my hotel room in my underwear, rehearsing my presentation.

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Saying not-so-nice things about things we like: We were liars

UnknownWe were liars is an excellent book and E. Lockhart is an excellent writer. Let’s get that out of the way. You don’t need me to tell you that because everyone from John Green to the New York Times to Migraine.com has weighed in and told you that you must read this book this summer. It’s #29 on Amazon’s best seller list today. Another book that I think is doing pretty well, Adam, is #59,000. It really is “blisteringly smart” like John Green promises (though he could have said it better with out the adverb). Lockhart paints a cold, cynical portrait of a blue blood American family and weaves in fairy tale and fable before hitting it out of the park with a bit twist ending.

But this should not the smash YA book of the summer.

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This is not a YA novel: A few seconds of radiant filmstrip

indexA couple of weeks ago Ruth Graham of Slate wrote this take down of adult readers who choose Young Adult books, stating that adults who read books meant for children should be ashamed of their reading choices. Graham’s article is click-bait. Meant to boil blood and inspire enraged responses all of which will link back to her original text. And it worked! The article currently has 74,000 Facebook shares, 2800 links via Twitter and 3000 comments. There’s no doubt that Graham spent all of last week on Slate’s leader board.

The most obvious counterpoint to Graham’s argument is that “Young Adult” is merely a construction of book marketing and reflects less on the text than on the desire of a publisher or bookseller to move copies. Michelle Dean over at Gawker makes the counter-argument very well so I’m not going to re-hash what she’s presented so well.

To celebrate Ruth Graham’s trolling, let’s talk about a book that may or may not be YA but is definitely wonderful: Kevin Brockmeier’s A Few Seconds of Radiant Filmstrip: A Memoir of Seventh Grade.

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