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Peddling Trashy Books to Teens

Looking at Young Adult fiction and finding the Imp of the Perverse.

Andrew Klavan


November 5, 2013 - 9:04 am
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Today — November 5th — is the official publication date of my new young adult thriller — an adventure story and ghost story combined — Nightmare City. I seriously hope you’ll consider getting a copy or two to read  secretly before giving them to the young adults in your life.

Meanwhile, here are some brief thoughts on writing stories for the youth market.

Edgar Allan Poe wrote a short story called The Imp of the Perverse. The imp was that demon inside all of us that pushes us to do the wrong thing, the thing that is certain to harm ourselves and others. You feel the imp inside you when you stand on a precipice and have the urge to throw yourself off. Maybe it’s just another name for the devil, or maybe it’s a personification of that sinful nature that, to paraphrase St. Paul, makes us do what we would not while being unable to do what we would.

Nowhere is the Imp of the Perverse more active today than in the stories and images we give to our young people. The imp is in the beckoning toward self-degradation and self-destruction that underlies so many songs and movies and books, in the blithe romanticization of promiscuity, drugs and foul language, in the strutting pride in transgression not of outdated social mores but of one’s own inner conviction of what is noble and good. There are plenty of wonderful songs and stories out there, but there really does seem an aggressive movement in parts of the entertainment industry to sell behavior to young people that, simply put, will make their lives not better but worse. I don’t have to name the garbage. You know what it is.

Criticize the selling of self-destructive behavior to the young and you’re “puritanical,” or “slut-shaming,” or being “unrealistic about the modern world.” But in fact, this effort to normalize the degraded is itself perverse in the extreme. It’s the incarnation of that imp within who urges us to do ill to what we love the best: ourselves and our children. The people who peddle this trash curse those who dare to criticize them so loudly precisely because they know they are doing wrong and can’t stop themselves. Believe me: the person who accuses you of “slut-shaming,” is herself deeply ashamed.

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All Comments   (5)
All Comments   (5)
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Talk about trashy books...I began reading one of Mr Klavan's novels (the title escapes me) and in the beginning pages, some guy has been tortured, and then his captors begin CRUCIFYING him, in VERY gruesome detail. I couldn't read any more of it. I was astonished, having watched a number of "Klavan on Culture" episodes and agreeing with EVERYTHING. And then he writes THIS. I was bitterly disappointed that such a culture warrior would turn around and write detailed torture scenes into his novels.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
The offerings of YA novels from the main publishing houses read like a circle of Dante's inferno: Rape, incest, torture, abuse, suicide, cutting. Who wants to read about that? My thirteen year old daughter brought home "The Lovely Bones" and after I seized it and asked her to wait until she is an adult (the opening scene is a graphic rape and murder of a little girl) she said her teacher thought she was ready for it. Parents who complain about such books are called "book burners" and "wacky fundamentalists." Yes, it's a sick culture out there. I'm glad to see another Andrew Klaven book is available for my kids as I stand on the ramparts and defend my family with every breath.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
One last thought.

>>Criticize the selling of self-destructive behavior to the young and you’re “puritanical,” or “sl*t-shaming,” or being “unrealistic about the modern world.”
This is the view point of people who trend towards evil, and they want very badly to blur the distinction between discernment and judgment. It is not helpful to them for others to discern the evil of both intent and action.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I've finished the book and will offer a review on Amazon after I've reread it. From me to you, it might be a wee bit heavy handed but the audience is YA and sometimes a heavy hand is needed. You might give some thought to advertising in church bulletins. This is the type of heart pounding excitement young readers grave, coupled with a parent approved "bigger game". Good work.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Andrew your book is on my Kindle.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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