More About Edgy YA Novels

Comments: 8

The problem arises, as I see it, when what is called edgy becomes something that appeals more to kid's prurient interests than as a learning experience.

For example, I once started reading a novel by Judy Blum. Yes, the same Judy Blum who wrote all those cute childrens books. It was touted to be a young adult novel, so as a writer of young adult novels, and the book having been written by a famous author like Judy Blum, I thought it would be a good read. About a quarter of the way through it, I had to take it back to the library. I could not read it any further. It was filled with graphic sex, describing the act in great detail. I suppose it was supposed to have some kind of lesson about a girl losing her virginity and the consequences that follow, but to me it was nothing more than child pornography. It made me sick to think our children are reading that kind of filth.

I don't have a problem with an author writing about sex, even events leading up to a sexual encounter, but to describe the act in detail is pornography in my mind.

I like an edgy book now and then, if it's done without appealing to our children's baser and prurient interests. And I could go off on another tangent and say edgy does NOT need to have the infamous "F" word, or many of its synonyms. But that is something for another discussion.
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About Paul West

Paul West is a freelance writer and novelist. Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Paul claims to be a "Prune Picker," though he now makes his home in Taylorsville, Utah.

You can follower him on Twitter: @PaulWWest

Published: Wednesday, September 29, 2010

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8 comments

  1. Good point. I totally agree. In fact, an intelligent YA writer should be able to address the issues concerning young adults without taking the easier route of presenting explicit details.

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  2. Good post, Paul. I think edgy is another pigeonhole. I would never sit down and think, "I am going to write something edgy today." I might think to myself, after having written something, "Hmmm. That's a little edgy."

    One of the problems with being an artist is that stories without conflict are boring. But conflict is always uncomfortable, and, well, edgy. I notice that authors like Judy Blum, who just claim to be edgy, never describe, in detail, a bowel movement. So I think that puts a lie to their claim of educational goals and or edgy art. They are pornographers. I also notice that descriptive love scenes are usually passionate, uncontrollable, and lustful; not loving, gentle ,and between committed partners.

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  3. IMHO, a good writer paints enough of a scene to involve a reader, and then lets their imagination take it the rest of the way. For example, in adult lit, I can handle it if a couple goes into the bedroom and SHUTS THE DOOR. I don't want to follow them in!

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  4. Well said, Karlene. I totally agree.

    I think it's a sign of an unimaginative writer who has to follow them into the bedroom.

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  5. ... and Gary. Your comments are well taken too. Many so-called "edgy" writers are more interested in the prurient aspects or shock value, by using vulgarity, than in taking the time to be creative. Someone on another board pointed to S.E. Hinton's "Outsiders" as a great example of edgy writing without using a single vulgar word or depiction of the sex act, and her novel is a classic.

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  6. Sorry I'm late to the conversation, Paul, but I thought I'd throw in my two cents worth. I agree with your thought on this subject. Sadly we're living in a time of sexual exploitation. Our society is drenched in it. I suppose some authors feel that they are just reflecting the world we live in. Still others believe in this bold new world and do all they can to sink our society further into it by "pushing the sexual envelope." I'm personally of the opinion that we need to practice restraint. We need good authors who will step up and hold an appropriate line with intelligent and engrossing writing without surrendering to worldly trends or an obvious agenda that indulges in societies extremities. Thanks, friend, for holding the line.

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  7. Thanks Bruce for your input. I'll keep holding the line as long as I have breath (or pen).

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