Doing it for the kids

I want to be down with the kids. This is what I’ve been told. You see, I wrote a book about teenagers and about rap. It wasn’t aimed at teenagers. It was aimed at adults, because, yes adults don’t mind reading an adult narrator tells us about his teenage years (cross-reference The Inbetweeners, Submarine, Sag Harbor etc etc ad nauseum). So why do I want to be down with the kids?

Oh yes, the book has rap in it.

Why do I want to be down with the kids?

Because only kids like rap, right? RIGHT? Hello? Is this thing on? Try the veal…

A couple of papers and people and critics have said to me that I want to be down with the kids. This immediately shuts down any shot at literary credibility, because, you know, rap = kids, and who wants to be associated with the kids right? Err… wrong.

First of all, saying that the book wants to be down with the kids fundamentally demonstrates you ain’t read the book. The book is about what makes a person, about the warmth of memories spiriting you on your life journey, it’s about wanting to be cool before knowing what cool is, it’s about how we become ourselves. So, if we say that saying the book wants to be down with the kids is a comment from someone who hasn’t read the book, we must then ask… why does that person think that thing?

It’s because it’s about rap. Right, first of all, not only kids listen to rap. I’ve got a legion of mature b-boys, 30 year old rap fans and Tim Westwood to disagree with you. So why do you think rap is for the kids? Is it because you’re middle-class, white and sincerely afraid of urban culture, regardless of age? Who knows, right? Is it because your kids listen to Eminem and 50 Cent and that becomes your stereotype and you’re uninterested in taking it back to even the Pharcyde, let alone Boogie Down Productions? Is it because you’re fusty and afraid of urban ideals in your safe haven of literary fiction, where middle-class families have breakdowns, meltdowns and burnouts and it doesn’t matter because it’s all in the grand tradition of The Great American Novel… well, mine’s inspired by Proust. As a kid might say… in your face.

But, regardless of all this, because I’m blatantly referring to the opinions of the minority (responding only because this minority, with their big voices, represent a dangerous prejudice present in publishing, a genuine ignorance and fear of ethnic culture – there, I said it), we are all ignoring the real issue…

Is it so bad that the kids read? Is it so bad that there are books that are about wizarding flights of fancy and robot dinosaurs and fluffy boy troubles and thongs… but there’s also something realistic and funny and relatable for teenagers to read? Is it terrible that we engage the kids now and get them to read and put down their knives (stereotype alert), mobiles and Nintendo DS’s and get them reading?

I don’t think so.

But anyway, ignorant minority critics, the book’s set in the 90s… I don’t think the kids’ll be that into nostalgia-porn just yet… but then, they ARE the only people in the entire world who listen to rap.

Soapbox over… merry blinkin christmas.

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