There are times that I almost wish that the New York Times didn't cover SF at all rather than have Itzkoff covering it, because I don't like having to wince several times whenever I read each of his columns. Today, for example, while praising two YA novels, he actually begins by slamming the entire genre:
I sometimes wonder how any self-respecting author of speculative fiction can find fulfillment in writing novels for young readers. I suppose J. K. Rowling could give me 1.12 billion reasons in favor of it: get your formula just right and you can enjoy worldwide sales, film and television options, vibrating-toy-broom licensing fees, Chinese-language bootlegs of your work, a kind of limited immortality (L. Frank Baum who?) andfinallygenuine grown-up readers. But where's the artistic satisfaction? Where's the dignity?
Where's the artistic satisfaction, Dave? Where's the dignity?
I hope that Ursula K. Le Guin gives him a smack upside the head.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in New York Times, Saturday Night Live comedian Bill Hader, out of work due to the writers' strike, offers the SF and fantasy books he's reading to pass the time. One of those books is Nine Hundred Grandmothers by R.A. Lafferty, about which he writes:
You get such a sense of joy and boundless imagination in every sentenceeven if the story doesn't totally cohere, you feel like it's about something. It's so incredibly Tulsa. You get that feeling when you see a Flaming Lips show. It's not like we're dark and hurt and twisted. It's like, "I've got blood on my facecome on, y'all, this is awesome."
Hader also shares about Joe Hill's Heart Shaped Box, John Wyndham's Day of the Triffids, and Clive Barker's Books of Blood.
Strangely, Itzkoff is the one who got Hader to share his reading list, stating "that the 29-year-old Tulsa native is not only capable of a totally killer Vincent Price impressionhe's also one of the most well-read science-fiction and horror fans I've ever met."
Now if only Itzkoff would get out of the way and let Hader take over permanently, maybe something good will have come of the writers' strike!