105 Ways to Give a Book

John Green Responds

I am mystified by technology. Heck, sometimes my stapler is even a little much for me. So, I have no explanation for why stuff going to my email sometimes lingers in cyberspace for a while. Size doesn’t matter (of the file, that is) and my computer’s pretty foolproof. In this case the wayward email was a comment by John Green of An Abundance of Katherines fame answering my sample interview questions. (Bloggers will know that the comments show up in your email. At least, I assume that happens to everyone. What do I know?)

Very exciting. Very cool. Here they are:
MotherReader: I haven’t read the book An Abundance of Katherines, but having seen the cover, I can guess what it’s about. Trust me, I’m really good at this. A boy, Darren, is a time traveler currently living in the early seventies. Frustrated that he isn’t seeing enough of his girlfriend Katherine, he travels to the year 2045 and brings back a cloning machine. He proceeds to clone his girlfriend so he can see more of her, but it quickly spins out of control with hysterical consequences. Is that pretty close?

John Green: There are some hysterical consequences. But that’s about the only connection. It’s about a former child prodigy who, having been dumped for the 19th time by a girl named Katherine, sets off on a road trip with his best friend Hassan. They end up in a little town called Gutshot, Tennessee, where they more or less try to figure out what if anything matters.

MotherReader: How much s*e*x is in the book? Because many of my readers don’t like sex. I mean, in their books. They might like sex perfectly well in their private lives. And they might like it in their romance novels. Or online porn. What I’m really asking is, does the content make this book more appropriate for high school or middle school?

John Green: It’s definitely a YA novel, in the same sense that Alaska is a YA novel. There’s not much material that’s inappropriate for middle schoolers, but the language might be a little sophisticated for them (I mean that there is some Latin, not that there is some cursing. Middle schoolers are already familiar with most of the major curse words; I don’t mind them reading books with swears in them.) So yeah. There is not much sex in Katherines, although there are some subtle digs at the sex-and-profanity-obsessed state of YA lit these days.

But I’m not sure how important sex is in the scheme of things, or in the scheme of audience-defining a book. There is not much explicit sex in the Gossip Girl books either, though, and I am profoundly concerned that middle schoolers read that shit.

MotherReader: One last question. Mo Willems. Great illustrator/writer or the greatest illustrator/writer?

John Green: Let me first echo the kudos on the Colbert reference [a comment to the original post]. And let me second say: Great, I think. I mean, are we talking about greatest ever or greatest contemporary? I don’t think you can make a very strong case for greatest ever, but you can make a good case for greatest contemporary. My heart, however, is with Kevin Henkes. But Mo is brilliant. There’s no doubt about that.
With these thoughtful responses to my less-than-top-notch questions, I now proclaim John Green to be an official “Friend of MotherReader.” I suspect I will actually need to read his books to make the next “Friends of John Green” email, but I’m getting to it. I really am. Thanks John, for stopping by to visit your Mother...Reader.

1 comment:

Little Willow said...

I'm a card-carrying member of Friends of the Sea Otter. Are there cards for Friends of MotherReader? :)