“How long is this dystopian ride going to last?” I asked.
“Oh, don’t even say the word dystopian. That is so over,” the young, bright-eyed literary agent told me. “What’s happening now is gritty realism.”
So, imaginary-futuristic-depressing gave way to contemporary-depressing in middle grade children’s books? Sigh.
“What about humor?”
“Weeell.” She scrunched up her nose and pulled her mouth into a tight line. “Humor is a hard sell,” she said. “It’s so subjective.”
But depressing is not. Got it.
Don’t get me wrong. I got into The Hunger Games as much as anyone. And I know readers—teenagers especially—feed off any devastating and gripping rollercoaster of a read. But do people want to read that all the time?
I like humor. Unfortunately, I don’t see enough of it on the bookshelves—for middle grade, young adults, and beyond.
Remember when Oprah had her TV book club? I would look for that little Oprah seal on a paperback and buy it. However, I bailed out early. My God, no wonder suburban housewives drink. Isn’t real life rocky enough without a constant consumption of depressing books?
Not much has changed since my conversation with the agent more than a year ago or even when Oprah first started her book club way back when. Are writers sad and angsty and tragic in general? Or is all that stuff just natural to write about?
I know I might be alone out here in La-La-Happy-Land, but … come on! Where’s your sense of humor, publishers? Writers? Help a reader out.