A Gent's Outlook

A Literary Agent Divulges the TRUTH about Publishing

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Marley's Special Spot

It's been a while, but heeeeeeere's Marley...

Jesus fucking Christ, people! What the fuck is going on? I’m not talking about James Fray or Free or Frey or what goddamn-ever. That was too hilarious--outsiders actually figuring out that publishing is nothing except a business where publishers take your money and give you little or nothing in return. And they don’t care. No, I am talking about something that is actually important: A sudden, sickening wave of worship for Judy Blume, children’s writer extraordinaire. Or so some say.

Perhaps you have figured out that I don’t say, because I can’t stand Judy Blume’s books, and the dweeby freaks who think she is the end all are really scary. Unfortunately, most of them are children’s editors. In one week I read that some chick-lit hack is going to write some homage to JB in a short story collection or some ridiculous thing (hey, when you’re published, you can write anything), and a book review--long-winded and no cuss words--by a woman who used every Judy Blume book she had read to rag on a book by Simon Pulse called Rainbow Party. Granted, this book needed plenty of ragging on (instead of getting a rainbow on your penis from seven girls with seven different lipsticks, why not get one girl, seven lipsticks, and a paper towel? Logistics, people, logistics!), but the theme of the review led me to believe that this woman was brought into womanhood by JB’s books. What? You had to read Judy Blume to get through puberty? You folks who can’t get published in the kiddie lit world now have your answer. The reason you can’t get “in” is because the editors who review your work were all weaned on this pre-yuppie, post-hippie “it’s all about me and getting my period” bullshit.

Oh, I know. Some of you are already tsking and shaking your heads. Hell, if I took on Poe and Hemingway, why wouldn’t I take on Blume? Come on, people. Have you read Are You There, God, It’s Me, Margaret? Have you? You know what I came away from that book with? The feeling that it must be nice to be able to turn in a letter instead of the major school project that was assigned and get by with it because you were so confused about growing up. Huh? The book Forever is even better. Comprised of 20,000 pages, in which the dirty parts are really hard to find and way too brief to be of any value to a hormonal teen, this book, according to the reviewer I mentioned, frankly discussed issues of the day about sex. Do you know what I remember about this book? The girl was always thinking about sex, even more than me, and she was a slut. Maybe it’s because I skimmed through it looking for the sex scenes, something from which I could have drawn some real inspiration, but at the time I remember thinking this chick didn’t need frank discussions, she needed a hobby that didn’t involving anything resembling the male reproductive organ.

You know what is worse? Some of the editors my friends deal with reference these books. They grew up with them. These books made them laugh. They made them cry. They made me cry, too. You want to know why? Because I wanted a real story to read. Something so fantastic that it was real. I didn’t need Deenie and her special spot and stupid back brace or a book to make me feel better about being fat or thin or the new kid or freckled or whatever. I needed a fucking story, not a story about fucking (although I never would rule that completely out as a plot point). What did I get? Feel good, didactic crap. Want a good book for your kid? Try E.L. Konigsburg. Try Nancy Drew, which is one of the most poorly written series I can think of, but by God, something is going on besides Nancy finding herself or worrying about getting her period (Thank God Carolyn Keene thought to add Ned).

Finally, keep in mind that editors who read Judy Blume acquire books that millions of people will read. Now does all the strife in the world make sense?

I thought it would.

Fuck you,


  • At 8:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Don't forget those twin towers of dullness and obnoxious characters, Wifey and Smart Women, the latter of which reads in parts more like a grocery list than a book.

  • At 9:41 AM, Blogger mapletree7 said…

    Aw, Marley, are you reading me?

    I don't think people would care as much about JUdy Blume if people didn't try to ban her books.


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