“My brother and I used to play a game. I’d point to a chair. “THIS IS NOT A CHAIR,” I’d say. Bird would point to the table. “THIS IS NOT A TABLE.” “THIS IS NOT A WALL,” I’d say. “THAT IS NOT A CEILING.” We’d go on like that. “IT IS NOT RAINING OUT.” “MY SHOE IS NOT UNTIED.” … We denied whole rooms, years, weathers. Once, at the peak of our shouting, Bird took a deep breath. At the top of his lungs, he shrieked: “I! HAVE! NOT! BEEN! UNHAPPY! MY WHOLE! LIFE!” “But you’re only seven,” I said.”—Nicole Krauss (The History of Love)
"The message we send kids with all the choices we give them is that they are entitled to a perfect life—that, as Dan Kindlon, the psychologist from Harvard, puts it, ‘if they ever feel a twinge of non-euphoria, there should be another option.’ Mogel puts it even more bluntly: what parents are creating with all this choice are anxious and entitled kids whom she describes as ‘handicapped royalty.’"
This hits a little too close to home. I wasn’t coddled, per se, but I find myself wanting to ask everyone I meet if they’re “happy,” whatever that means, and panicking whenever I realize that I probably won’t end up completely happy myself.
“George knew he had no way to send his letter. But since he believed so much in his parents, it was like he was praying to them… . It was almost like a shock, like a snap. George had a feeling for his parents, and his parents had a feeling for him. If your heart’s keeping you safe, it should keep other people in your heart safe.”—
Mara (“The Spell from Ms. McGee”)
Mara is an eight-year-old who attends workshop at the creative writing non-profit at which I’m currently interning. In her story, George is a kid whose parents live far away in a submarine.
“During this time Hemingway composed ‘The Sun Also Rises,’ a novel about self-loathing, castrated Jake Barnes, who impresses women with his massive booze consumption, since he can’t impress them with a massive anything else. (Original title: ‘The Junk Never Rises.’)”—Marty Beckerman (The Heming Way: How to Unleash the Booze-Inhaling, Animal-Slaughtering, War-Glorifying, Hairy-Chested, Retro-Sexual Legend Within… Just Like Papa!) (as quoted on Salon.com)
“All she could remember now was how much they had hated each other, Jessica and Todd. They hardly spoke. They weren’t even Facebook friends.”—
Francine Pascal (Sweet Valley Confidential)
(I loved Sweet Valley as an impressionable middle-schooler, but this new follow-up is the worst of the worst. Plot and character inconsistencies, typos, bad writing, uninspired conflict. Most hilariously of all, Pascal butchers every obviously inserted reference to twenty-first-century technology (as above). Had to jot this one down for posterity.)
"Something isn’t right here. There are creatures among us — a puppy named Snoopy, a boy named Charlie Brown, a wild dagger-haired tempest called Calvin — who don’t ever, ever, ever grow up. They’re not allowed."