24 December 2006

Nefarious Plots

So last night I was reclining in my hotel room in darkest Delaware, reading The Clue of the Linoleum Lederhosen. And it put me in mind of a comment from author M. T. Anderson to the Boston Globe's David Mehegan earlier in the week:

The editor who accepted [Anderson's first] book "suggested some revisions," he said. "Mainly that I add a 'plot.' Apparently people like those. I spent the next year revising the book and making something actually happen in it."
This struck me as interesting since Anderson's most award-festooned novels, Feed and The Pox Party, aren't plot-driven. They evoke unfamiliar worlds with an accumulation of provocative detail, narrative commentary, and language, and big things definitely happen to the central characters; but those young men aren't go-getters who set out to win the big game, find the buried treasure, or put on a show in the old barn.

Anderson seems, in fact, to have saved up a lot of plot points for The Clue of the Linoleum Lederhosen and its fellow "thrilling tales." These novelettes have all the turning-points that a middle-grade reader with a busy TV schedule and a short attention span could want. Whether or not the parodic humor of Linoleum Lederhosen is to one's taste, there's no denying that something actually happens in it.

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