05 April 2011


Adam Gopnik’s fantasy fiction hasn’t won me over, but I adore his nonfiction writing on kids. Here’s a passage from the father of two in the 4 April issue of The New Yorker:

When one eleven-year-old girl says to another eleven-year-old girl, “So then, like, the teacher got all, like, all of you, I guess, are, like, going to have to do a, like, I don’t know, a makeup test. So! Like, yeah,” she means:

“The teacher, becoming heated”—that’s why she “got, like,” rather than “said, like”—“announced, in effect, that many of us (I suppose, at a first approximation, all) will, at some point in, as it were, the near future, have to take what actually amounts to, when all is said and done, a secondary makeup test. I have indignant feelings about this—as who among us would not?—but I recognize their essential futility.”
That must be one of the ten greatest sentences ever to appear in that august magazine.


Monica Edinger said...

I'm with you in loving this and Adam's reflections on just about everything. As for this particular bit, in addition to admiring it I also can visualize the speakers as Adam's kids go to my school and I know them both. His most recent book for children is full of material that is incredibly familiar to me --- he steals our school motto among other things!

Unknown said...

Amazing. Hannah said something scarily similar just the other day. I must go and read the full article. But should I show it to her?

J. L. Bell said...

That’s only a little of this article, I should say. The only harm I can see coming from the exposure would be alerting Hannah and her friends to the fact that some adults can actually break their code.