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Posts Tagged ‘Kenyon College’

NEA Extends Doom & Gloom to Teen Readers, Too

The Boston Globe reports on preliminary results of a report on children’s reading by the National Endowment for the Arts, due to be released in the fall, and the results look about as good as they did for the 2002 report on adults’ reading. “Reading scores and rates seem to be going up in the age 7-11 range,” NEA Chairman Dana Gioia said in an interview. “But when kids hit high school, all the social pressure takes them away from reading and you see an enormous fall, to a point where most kids are almost not reading at all. A quarter of all kids read for pleasure. Most of the others don’t. Because kids read less, they read less well. Because they read less well, they have lower levels of academic achievement. God bless Harry Potter, and please send us many more. But one book or series of books is not strong enough to counterbalance the trends.”

Others concur, like the Horn Books editor Roger Sutton and Kenyon College graduate Margaret Willison. “They are not necessarily reading other books,” Willison, a youth literacy coach, said of some of her students. “The [Harry Potter] books are so big that they think if they just read those books — and maybe not even the book, just see the movie — their reading is done. When this book goes away, they might not have this fervor for a book again.”

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Let’s All Cry for Authors With Big Book Deals

To be fair, I’m generally sympathetic to the point of view presented by the New York Observer’s Gillian Reagan about why a big book deal can prove to be a curse. In fact, a few drinks in my belly and I’ll start ranting and listing examples of all the mega-auction deals that went nowhere and how careers are better off getting started with healthy, if not outsized, advances. And it’s also important to point out that, say, a six figure advance really translates into less than half when taxes and agency commissions are factored in. And the comments made by Leah McLaren, Nathan Englander, Rachel Sklar and Anna Holmes are generally interesting and entertaining. But then I read the words of 25 year old aspiring writer Brendan Sullivan (left, with Planned TV Arts publicist Peter Horan) and my sympathy kind of goes away:

Writing has ruined my life and cost me many, many girlfriends. I have thrown away several careers and one college degree to spend my time working in bars, D.J.’ing in bars and drinking my rejection letters away. I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy, and I’ve made many of them since I started…I also abandoned my agent with words harsher than those I’ve saved for lost loves.”

Hmm, maybe some of those “27 jobs” Sullivan’s had since moving from Kenyon College in Ohio will actually, I don’t know, give him real ideas to write about instead of what he learned in school?