Friday, July 11

The eternal dilemma

I will admit to reacting to the Harry Potter series much as A.S. Byatt has: as a literary snob, dismissing them as children's books with little true value. And, after having read the first four, I still agree with my first instincts. I read a great many things, however, that have little value other than the enjoyment they give me.

I seem perpetually stuck between my inherent snobbishness (the part of me that wants to sniff hideous things like, "Well, if you haven't read Don Quijote in the original Spanish...") and my truer self, which loves Stephen King and the occasional trashy romance and bad teen movies. What I want to say is that it all has value, but it is a relative value. I would take Byatt's Possession over Rowling's Potter any day and twice on Sunday. Possession stayed with me; it made me think; it made me want to be a good writer. Potter entertained me for a few hours and I then forgot about it. Really good children's books shouldn't be like that; they should be like The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe or A Wrinkle in Time or even Summer of My German Soldier. I read all of those books before I was 12, and I can remember them all more vividly than books I read a few months ago.

(Byatt's op-ed at the Times. Saw the links over at Bookslut.)

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