What a Bundle of Joy

Mom,

The title of your last post (Talking ’bout Boys) made me laugh, considering the content of the post itself (about female authors writing about male protagonists), because it’s a reference to a Shirelles song (“Boys”), which celebrates boys as sex objects–but which is probably best known today (certainly it was the first place I heard it) from the Beatles’ cover of it on their debut, with vocals by Ringo.  In all probability, the Beatles recorded the song simply because they liked the Shirelles’ version, but what exactly are the connotations of an all male pop band singing a song in 1962 about boys being “a bundle of joy” (a line conveniently garbled by Ringo beyond all comprehension, but clearly audible on the original)?

The above paragraph could probably launch several music theory dissertations, but I’ll leave it as an aside for now. On to the books! I’ve only read two of the four books you mentioned, Pieces and Reality Boy, but I definitely agree with you (as a former teenage boy myself) that both Lynch and King create convincingly “actual” teen teens.  In reference to your point about King as a female writer, I have a few thoughts.  First: she’s done it before, possibly even better, in Everybody Sees the Ants.  Second, I tend to think that the ability to write a particular gender has more to do with the specific talents and background of the writer in question than their own gender.  For example, to my mind AM Jenkins (a woman) writes male narrators far more convincingly than, to take a not-so-random example, John Green.  I won’t presume to weigh in on the psychological realism of male authors’ female narrators, but my impression is that there are many of them who have been praised for just that talent.  So, while it is certainly worth noting when a writer like Laurie Halse Anderson or AS King pulls off a particularly strong male voice, I don’t think it should be seen as an exception–more just another thing to praise these great writers for.

– Mark

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