Wednesday, July 14, 2010
I believe it. Like Libba Bray, John Green emanates a good Bigness, not just of talent, but of spirit. Travels to his web site yield a glimpse of a guy whose humor, occasional gentle self-mockery, and unabashed love for World Cup Soccer have remained intact, through the tsunami of his success. If you had a chance to visit readergirlz during their John Green month, you'd find the man waving with both hands, talking up playlists, and jiving his way through his infamous tweets (he hates the term social media, apparently, but he's textbook good at it). If you've read any of his books, or even just the acknowledgments in his books, or maybe the extras in his books, you get the aforementioned good Bigness.
This morning I've been reading the book that launched Green's career, Looking for Alaska, because it is a good thing, I think, to go back to the beginning with authors, to remember what was first for them, the platform that they built from. Everything is right about this book—the tone, the relationships, the slow build of tension and mystery (slow, or fast, depending on how you take to the chapter "titles' which are all variations of "fifty-eight days before" or "one-day after"). Alaska has the intelligence of A Separate Peace and the wit of a Salinger. It has something only this former hospital chaplain might have written about The Meaning of it All.
Green's work will, I'm certain, be around for a long time. He is an author who makes me proud to be counted among the YA writers of right now. Because Green's work is first-rate no matter what genre label you give it, and that's what YA books must be, first and foremost—well-written, thoughtful, funny if the author can swing it, capable of leaving readers psychically richer than they were.