Posts Tagged ‘teenagers’
February 18, 2011 | by Lorin Stein
Is there an age requirement in submitting to magazines? I am seventeen years old, and I’ve wanted to be a professional writer since I was thirteen. I feel like I am ready to submit my work to publications like The Paris Review. But it seems like the normal age to be published these days is your forties, and no offense to those writers, but I think when teens hear about a young-adult novel or material of that nature, it would be nice to also know that it was written by an actual teen. (And I don’t think we should have to go to a teen magazine just for that.) So why is the norm so close to the forties and fifties? Is it really for the maturity of the work? If that’s the case I think I would fit in without a problem. —T
Oh, T! I remember feeling exactly the same frustration. Unfortunately—and it is unfortunate, when you’re sitting there waiting for high school to end—grown-ups enjoy two big advantages over teenagers, when it comes to writing: They know what it’s like to be a kid—and also what it’s like to be older. (It is constantly surprising, how different it is to be older.) And they just have more practice writing and reading. They know which rules it’s okay to break and when to break them. Nothing teaches you that but time and practice. If I were you, I wouldn’t turn up my nose at the teen zines. But to answer your original question, I don’t think there’s any age requirement for submitting to grown-up publications. And if there is, to hell with it—that’s a rule you should go ahead and disregard!
October 21, 2010 | by Miranda Popkey
Paul Murray’s second novel, Skippy Dies—recently longlisted for the Booker Prize—is more than six hundred pages long and tackles subjects ranging from string theory to World War I. Set at an Irish boarding school, the darkly comic tale (Skippy actually does die in the first chapter) is populated by a sharply drawn cast of confused, self-destructive teens and self-involved, irresponsible adults. Recently, Murray spoke to me from his home in Dublin.
Did you draw any of the characters and themes from your own experiences? Were you bullied at school?
I went to quite an illustrious school in Ireland called Blackrock College, and Seabrook College, the school in the book, physically resembles the school that I went to. But other than that, it wasn’t hugely autobiographical. I wasn’t bullied or anything; I wasn’t brutalized in any way. There were much nerdier kids in my school, and they would draw more of the fire, but I could see it going on around me. It wasn’t an evil place. But there was such a limited view of the world. It was a big rugby school, and I was incredibly bad at rugby. They would make you play it until you were about fifteen, no matter how incredibly pointless that was. So if you weren’t any good at rugby, then you sort of didn’t really have any kind of standing in the school.
I think being a teenager is really, really hard. You’re caught in this double bind: You’re struggling to establish your own identity, and at the same time you have absolutely zero of the tools that you need. You’re completely dependent on your parents, you have no money, and your day is mapped out for you from beginning to end. My school was a boys’ school; there were no girls, so life really felt kind of pointless in that regard. You’ve got these huge sexual transformations happening, but if there are no girls, obviously all the energy is just going to be turned into brutalizing whoever is smaller than you.
There was also a real emphasis on grades. The school would push students to perform well on exams and get a lot of points and get into good universities and so forth. The education system in Ireland is a real sausage factory. You go into class and you learn as many facts as you can and you regurgitate them in your exams, and there’s not a huge amount of respect for learning or a huge amount of respect for education. And because a lot of the kids were quite wealthy, some of them looked down on teachers. And the combination of a might-makes-right brutality and also getting a glimpse of the economic hierarchy that held sway in the country—all those things were really disappointing lessons to learn as a kid. It felt like my life began as soon as I left school.
July 2, 2010 | by Lorin Stein
I need to buy a present for a thirteen-year-old boy. His parents suggested "a good book." This thirteen year-old is not that interested in literature, so I want this book to be a gateway to good, weird literature for him. Suggestions? —James in Providence
This is such an excellent—and delicate—question, we decided to call in some experts.
Lev Grossman is a senior writer and book critic for Time magazine. He is also the author of the novels Warp, Codex, and The Magicians, the last of which is centrally concerned with teenagers and gateway reading. Lev recommends:
Cat's Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut. I read and reread this book constantly from ages thirteen through sixteen. Vonnegut seamlessly merges (sorry for the cliché) the basic existential challenges of life with that early-adolescent sense of generalized grievance against the world of which thirteen year-olds are the chosen curators. Plus, it's impossible to read Cat's Cradle as a grownup, so it's now or never. If that doesn't work, T.H. White's The Once and Future King. After that I give up.
Laura Miller is a staff writer at Salon, which she helped found. She is a frequent contributor to The New York Times Book Review, the editor of The Salon Guide to Contemporary Fiction, and the author of The Magician's Book: A Skeptic's Adventures in Narnia. Laura writes:
The Maze Runner by James Dashner is not exactly a literary triumph, but it's accessible and action-packed (important to many young male nonreaders) yet also features just enough of that good, Vonnegutesque mind-blowing to show him that books can take you to places no other medium can.