The Art of Reading

Interesting post by Christopher Beha (for The New Yorker) on Henry James, Young Adult Fiction, and how we value the art of the novel.

While the post runs long —perhaps too long— with some esoteric specifics of James’ conception of the novel, and the necessary foundations of good fiction, the essay also tackles the West’s (I’m not sure, even now, whether North America and Europe are equally implicated) cultural slide away from the serious —a fetishizing of Y.A. fiction’s simplified view of the world.

While I am not a literary critic, the sensibility of today’s reader is always of interest. Does it matter than Harry Potter was a runaway success? Maybe not. But if these trends inform the larger universe of the reading world —if they indicate a growing hesitation to engage deeply with the messiness of real life— then we might be reading more while learning less.