Thursday, November 16, 2006

Don't hate me 'cause I'm pretty.

The new PW has an interesting article about the future of the Children's Book Council, and it's something of an eye-opener for those of us nurtured in the institutional end--schools and libraries--of the children's book biz. Take a look.

Not online is their end-of-the-book "Soapbox" column, which this week bemoans the curse of being good-looking. Nora Ephron wrote a long time ago that if one thing bored her more than the problems of big-breasted women, it was the problems of the pretty. Courtney E. Martin has written Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters: The Frightening New Normalcy of Hating Your Body and is well aware of the irony of worrying about her looks in her attempt to sell her book about worrying about your looks, but "crudely put, no one wants to read a book about the overvaluation of beauty by an ugly girl." Martin claims that publicists came to all of her proposal meetings to "check out the goods," and she must have passed, as Free Press will be publishing the book in April. "And now for the author photo, the publicity campaign, the book tour . . . the beauty pageant of the book world. Ugh."

Ugh my flat ass. If one thing bores me more than the complaints of writers about their author photos, publicity campaigns and book tours, it's the complaints of those who claim to endure it all for the sake of the Greater Good and above all, the kids: "I am not above buying an expensive suit if it means that even one teenage girl in Topeka, Kan., questions why she is spending more time thinking about her waist than the war in Iraq." And with the right shoes and bag, world domination could be just around the corner.

9 comments:

Lynn said...

"crudely put, no one wants to read a book about the overvaluation of beauty by an ugly girl."

That is not only harsh, but also begs the question, who is making the ugly and beauty determinations? By considering yourself one of the "non-uglies" you are part of the problem. Continuing to make the distinction between pretty and ugly, especially using it to sell your book, perpetuates the myth of physical beauty currently being marketed to young men and women.

I think I'll agree with an Ugh my big behind! Or maybe fine fanny?

Anonymous said...

The last paragraph of your post is fanfreakingtastic. I lift my mug to you, sir!

Laurie Halse Anderson

rindambyers said...

Does this mean the world of children's books is...ak...sniff...sniff...
gasp! Becoming HOLLYWOODIZIED?!

I worry about under-funded libraries, especially under-funded school libraries. I worry about all the children who are book-have-nots because they are too poor to own even one precious book of his or her own. I worry about young, struggling parents who, along with their children, grab cheap and easy off the supermarket shelves mainly because they don't seem to know about better or possibilities and don't have the time either to learn about better possibilities.

I think I am going to keep buying high-qualty picturebooks for my new baby gifts---yeah.

Jorunn said...

The article is online, here: http://www.courtneyemartin.com/pdfs/publishersweekly.pdf

The funniest part to me is probably where she draws the line at mascara.

sdl said...

Until I looked at the article, I seriously thought you made up the waist/war in Iraq quote for satirical effect!

Judith said...

Gosh, you're tough, Roger! I am surrounded by authors (colleagues and friends) down here who are completely—emotionally, physically and creatively—burnt out by the school gig roundabout. Some of them have been on it for years and view any new gig with quiet desperation. I know that's not the same thing as a publicity tour, but I can understand the dread with which writers face them.

Roger Sutton said...

Then they should stop.

Anonymous said...

Those of them who can afford to are.

Judith said...

Oops! That was me, I didn't mean to be anonymous!