From the Hudson River to the Kapiti Coast

I never quite expected the words “Camus” and “Paraparaumu” to appear in the same story, but trust Bookslut to get there first.
An interesting post from Elizabeth Bachner on being transported by the legendary Margaret Mahy all the way from Manhattan to Paraparaumu, as an adult reader of a young adult novel. Margaret Mahy can do that to you.
Bachner has been scouring The Ultimate Teen Book Guide: More than 700 Great Books, and spends some time discussing the nature of best books – the books to which you return, no matter what age you were when you read them:

It makes me expect some new book [which will] thrill me, and heal me, and mutually love me, and make me safe. It reminds me that being full-grown doesn’t mean I have to be stolid, untransformable, bored, or dead. Beginning and ending things does not have to be teenage.

She touches on the question of whether the YA novel’s success in a crossover market is because it allows time travel by the reader back to their own adolescence or simply across genre. Or simply about finding a bloody good read.
I was wondering the same thing this morning, as it happens, having downloaded the new Scott Westerfeld, Behemoth, a ripping steampunk yarn set in World War One. Sure, I can put it down as research of my own, but the truth is that the first book in the trilogy, Leviathan, sucked me in good and proper as a reader of any age, so that I felt I had to get the ebook immediately instead of waiting to be able to locate a hardback in the shops.
My critical author brain reads it out of one eye, my breathless twelve year-old self reads it with the other.
I don’t even pretend when reading some books – for example, Harry Potter. If I think about the words on the page too much, I wish for a more heavy-handed editor. So I don’t think about it. It’s not hard. The story and characters inevitably carry me away from my adult self.
Mind you, my adolescent self largely had to get by without young adult novels and spent a great deal of time angsting with Camus too.
So maybe we’re just catching up on lost opportunities.

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