The Boys are expecting me to talk about The Catcher in the Rye. But I don’t think I need to tell YA writers to read that. For one thing, y’all have already, and if you liked it, you loved it. And if you didn’t like it, you hated it. So.
Instead, I’m going with this, because I heard this little mention on John Moe’s APR tech show yesterday morning, and it struck a chord. And apologies, because apparently 2 out of 3 BDR bloggers think you should read Ray Bradbury. (PS, The Road is booooooorrriiiiingg.)
Fahrenheit 451 is a dystopian, and we all know how much YA writers are jiving on that whole scene right now. So that’s ten points for F451 right there. Also, its protagonist examines and then breaks away from this hellish future society (as most dystopian protagonists do), which is a totally YA thing to do, even if he happens to be married and all old and stuff. Also, there’s a MPDG, and they’re always fun and embarrassing when we realize what a sexist catastrophe they are.
But back to yesterday morning, and here’s, if I’m honest, the main reason I picked F451. Apparently, Bradbury hasn’t let anyone make a digital version of this book yet, because hell, look what it’s about: screens have deadened our intellect, and this has led to the destruction of books. To refuse a digital version was mostly a symbolic move on Bradbury’s part, perhaps, but it was a poignant one as well.
Apparently, not everyone agreed, because according to yesterday’s report on NPR, there will now be a digital version. That’s because Bradbury’s publisher said they wouldn’t offer a new contract without digital rights. He relented.
You can agree with either party in this little incident. Makes no odds to me. But in my mind, the publisher took this 91-year-old hero of American letters and put him over a barrel.
So, YA writers, are some of the earliest visions of dystopia coming to pass? I suppose not. I haven’t seen the fire brigade at our door, demanding our library. Still, it’s an ironic moment in literary history, and a chilling one.
If you take my advice and read F451, please get it from the library or buy the physical book. I’m not an anti-digital guy, but Bradbury is. Do it for him.