Author Elimination with Lev Grossman: Eliot Versus the World

Having Evil Monkey’d Lev Grossman re his article in the Wall Street Journal, and having seen a lot of serious stuff thrown around out there, I thought it was only fair to interview Grossman for Amazon–in, er, a less serious vein. I thought he was a very good sport. How would you explain James Joyce’s Ulysses to a 12-year-old child? Is there a children’s book or YA equivalent you could reference?

Lev Grossman: I guess you could get away with saying that it’s a story about an Irish teenager without a real father, who meets a lonely man who’s always wanted a son, and they get to be friends. They’re kind of like Harry Potter and Sirius Black. Wow, that sounded like the worst after-school special ever.


  1. says

    I really enjoyed that interview, and it helps confirm for me what I thought when I read Grossman’s article in the WSJ: He’s a pretty astute critic who wrote an uncharacteristically bad piece.

    I wish he’d answered the second part of the first question you posed, though. Since he didn’t, I’ll nominate Go, Dog. Go! as the apotheosis of Modernism in children’s lit. It’s discontinuous, splashy and encyclopedic, lacking a central character and possessing only the barest throughline of plot, and it comprises pure fantasy and gritty realism. A truly inexhaustible text.

    If I have to go with a chapter book, I pick either the two volumes of Octavian Nothing or Hoban’s The Mouse and His Child.