Thursday, June 3, 2010

Adult Books: Part 1

The other day, I took my kids to a new gymnastics program. It was pretty typical. The place was alive with over-caffeinated instructors (Are! My! Twisters! READY?!?!), modern parents trying to cajole their wild-ass kids (Preston... Preston, please. PRESTON COME HERE NOW!), and a host of screaming toddlers (my children sat quietly in the lotus position meditating.)

I've never been comfortable in this scene. I'm not the type of guy who willingly wears those Number 1 DAD!!! t-shirts. Hell, I make fun of those dudes. And I don't do soccer moms.

Yes. Pun intended.

This is a long way of saying: I don't fit in with many of the adults my age. I don't go to dinner parties. I wear Chuck Taylor All Stars to church. I have no desire to play the stock market and hell if I'm interested in wearing a polo shirt and shorts... with a belt.


I recently decided to read 5 adult books.  (And let me say how stupid it sounds to say "adult" books...I'm going to start referring to them as my "Big-Boy Books") I figured, as a writer, it would be useful to read a book marketed for adults and see what was different.  Was the writing more advanced?  What about the humor?  Are they as boring as their covers make them out to be?

Of course, a lot of research has gone into the selection of these books.  I wanted to mix up new writers with some well established ones (i.e Christopher Moore.)  At the same time, I didn't want to jump in bed with an author who I already love (again, Christopher Moore.)  So I went to the book store and I bought....

First, the title - CAPTAIN FREEDOM: A SUPERHERO'S QUEST FOR TRUTH, JUSTICE, AND THE CELEBRITY HE SO RICHLY DESERVES - is awesome.  When I first saw this book a year ago, I almost bought it.  I think I ended up leaving with AN ABUNDANCE OF KATHERINES by John Green instead (which proved to be a good choice, as it solidified my decision to write YA.)  Still, I've always held the title in the back of my head, plotting to come around and buy it.

That day was approximately last Tuesday.

The book is hilarious.  But the humor isn't necessarily what I expected.  More satirical, the author, G. Xavier Robillard, plays on everything from Movie Piracy (they're actual pirates who live in a hollow volcano...) to Area 51 (which is a prison AND night club for extra-terrestrials... and the  uber-famous.)  In case you aren't aware, satire is like ninja humor.  It has to be stealth enough that you don't expect it, but once you read the joke it has to jump all over you and go, well, ninja.  Captain Freedom is kinda like this.

So what did I learn?

Well, nothing.  I mean, I went into this thinking, "I'm going to read an adult book, extract some sort of useful knowledge, and then use it to further my own writing!"  I'd be lying if I said I wasn't sure why that didn't happen... I flat out enjoyed the book.  A lot.  It made me laugh.  It made me think about crying if that wasn't such an un-manly type thing to do.  It made me question my existence.

Okay, that last bit is completely untrue.  

There were obvious differences: the plot was a lot slower than many YA books, but that doesn't really bother me.  In fact, I'm learning that I prefer character-driven books over your typical 3 disasters and a vampire plot.  (Okay, that was harsh.  Sorry.  Kind of.)

I don't know... maybe I'm becoming more of an adult.  Maybe I need to go check out the pleated khaki section at Wal-Mart?  Either way, the next book I'm reading is THE ELECTRIC CHURCH by Jeff Somers.

Hopefully my next blog post won't be about my financial portfolio or some shit like that.


  1. Randomly, here are some adult books I read recently and would recommend: AWAY by Amy Bloom (sobbed, so good I want to read it again); THE GOOD THIEF by Hannah Tinti (very well done); THE GESTURE LIFE by Chang-rae Lee (omfg this book almost killed me; heartbreaking). They're all serious, though, not funny.

    (Basically, I was reading a lot at Yaddo and ran out of books so I ransacked the library downstairs in the house where I was staying... it was sorely lacking in YA so I ended up with a stack of adult books, but I secretly left behind THE BOOK THIEF by Markus Zusak for them. ;) )

    I love novels for adults... but I drift toward the literary character-driven ones, I guess. I also like serious books that make me curl up into a ball and sob.

    Does this mean I should be writing for adults instead of YA? I HOPE NOT!!!!! Please don't make me go back.

  2. Ha... reading this made me think, "I never want to write adult books" too. ;)

    I like serious, literary books as well. And I'm all about characters. I should get an MFA... (that was a joke.)

    Thanks for the recommendations - I'm checking them out. Although, if I start sobbing and it ruins my street cred - I'm blaming you.

  3. I think you would REALLY like THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU by Jonathan Tropper - it is an adult book with a brilliant male voice - full of reality.

    And for the record, AN ABUNDANCE OF KATHERINES is one of my top 5 books I read this year. LOOKING FOR ALASKA rules as well.

  4. That doesn't seem like an adult book to me...more like an adult book for the children at heart. On the edge of my seat to see Part 2!

  5. K.M. - Thanks for the recommendation! I'm going to check it out for book #3

    Matthew: Dude, not only do I go to church - I'm seminary educated and a full time employee of a church. I know, it's weird.

    Jonathon: Crap. You've discovered my secret, man.

  6. ooh, love the khakis. so can we talk about diversifying the portfolio first?

    (I loved Dirty Job by Moore, and I bought Fool to read on a plane tomorrow. Also I'm currently on a reading spree of Douglas Coupland books. I love YA, though, ferreals. And Katherines is my favorite John Green book.)