deborah: Kirkus Reviews: OM NOM NOM BRAINS (kirkus)
[personal profile] deborah
I don't actually want a professional tumblr, but it strikes me that this brief but very wise comment by [livejournal.com profile] diceytillerman is exactly the kind of thing that tumblr re-blogging is good for:

I will be fascinated for the rest of my life that some of the same things are archetypal and intertextual and deep when written well, but are stale derivatives when written poorly.


Via "No formula"

Dicey has been schooling me for years to pay attention to this when I write my reviews. Frequently the problem with the book is not that it's derivative, but that the characters are flat, the prose is uninspired, etc. And yet when all of those things are true, what you see is how derivative it is.

The same goes for certain other negative terminology. "Didactic", for example, is a term you apply to a terrible book with an overt moral lesson, whereas a good book with an overt moral lesson might get "thought-provoking". "Problem novel" versus "relevant".

Full disclosure: [livejournal.com profile] diceytillerman and I have an ongoing disagreement about the usefulness of the term "problem novel" given that we both define it differently. I've been trying to reclaim some of these terms myself, to use them descriptively about books that I like. Trying to pin down why I want to define I am J (a young adult novel about a trans Jewish Puerto Rican) as a problem novel, while I don't want to apply that same term to, say, The First Part Last (a young adult novel about an upper-middle-class adolescent black single father), if I'm not going to use high/low quality as one of my available definitive points, is... complicated.
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