I am sure that John Green is a fine writer. But I’ve also noticed the strange spate of articles that seem to imply that he invented the YA genre.
Now I’ve been reading YA for many years now, since my late 20s. (I didn’t read YA at all when I was a Y – I skipped straight from reading primers to National Geographic and Moby Dick.) And I know for a fact that YA existed well before John Green, even “realistic” YA, whatever the hell that means.
So the peculiar canonization of John Green and this string of bizarre articles that anoint him as the vanguard of a post-sparkly-vampire seriousness in YA isn’t simply about taking a white male more seriously than everyone else. It’s also about privileging a certain narrative structure—the dominant narrative’s dominant narrative. It’s not only that Green is a straight white man, it’s that he writes in the way that generations of straight white men have deemed important and Literary.
I also like how the piece explored how to a certain class of critic (also known as “bad, useless critic”) the only valid literature is the one tiny genre of “realism.” Though of course realism is a construct like any other, and just as fictional as anything else.
But thank you, time-traveling John Green, for rescuing us from all these women and their lady books! We all really appreciate it.