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Generational Cycles – Judy Blume

Generational Cycles –  Judy Blume

| On 26, Jan 2020

Darrell Mann

“I was goddamn lucky those books were part of the usual fare on the shelves of my public middle school library. My sudden guilt at age 33 about omitting [Judy] Blume from my influence list led me to finally Google her, because I had no idea who she actually was. And, I learned, Blume wasn’t just a standard library author ― she was one of the most controversial American authors of the century. Her books were (and are still) banned by public schools across America. As I was blissfully reading her books on summer vacations in Massachusetts assuming that teenagers the world over were doing the same, administrators in other states were calling her a witch for writing about teenage sex, menstruation and masturbation in a way that was, you know, kinda nice.

I’d had no idea.

Perhaps the biggest compliment you could give a writer ― or a writer of youth fiction ― is that they’re so indelible they vanish into memory, the way a dream slips away upon waking because it’s so deeply knitted into the fabric of your subconscious. The experiences of her teenage characters ― Deenie, Davey, Tony, Jill, Margaret ― are so thoroughly enmeshed with my own memories that the line between fact and fiction is deliciously thin.”

These words from archetypal Nomad, Amanda Palmer, in an article she wrote in Huffington Post about author, Judy Blume.

Amanda Palmer: was born in 1976 and raised, after her father left home when she was one, in the Boston suburbs with her mother a computer programmer and her stepfather, a physicist. “I was a very weird, troubled kid,” she says.
“Troubled in what way?”
“I was just a very dark kid,” she says. “My family was complicated.”
“I actually put my finger on it recently while discussing something with my family,” she continues, “and realised what precisely the chasm between me and them might be. It was a house of no metaphors. I had very literal parents and I wanted to survive with metaphor and art, and there was a real sense of shame around it.”
“They were judgmental towards you?”
“There was a real judgment cast in my family about me wanting attention,” she nods. “It wasn’t that my parents didn’t encourage my artistic pursuits – they did very much – but they didn’t understand them.”
In her adult life, Palmer has been a living statue, stripper, TED-sensation and one of the most controversial, ‘out-there’ recording artists of the last couple of decades. If ‘not selling out’ is one of the key strands of Generation X, Nomad DNA, Palmer is one of the most iconic exemplars.

Judy Blume: (born Judith Sussman; February 12, 1938) is an American writer of children’s and young adult (YA) fiction. Some of her best known works are Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret (1970), Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing (1972), Deenie (1973), and Blubber (1974). The New Yorker has called her books “talismans that, for a significant segment of the American female population, marked the passage from childhood to adolescence.” Publishing her first novel in 1969, Blume was one of the first authors to write YA novels about topics that some still consider to be taboo including masturbation, menstruation, teen sex, birth control, and death. She was a catalyst for the movement of controversial topics being expressed in children’s and/or YA literature. Blume expressed how adults were not honest with her about this information she shares with her readers. This has led to criticism from individuals and groups that would like to see her books banned. This controversy has led to the American Library Association (ALA) naming Blume as one of the most frequently challenged authors of the 21st century. Despite her critics, Blume’s books have sold over 82 million copies and they’ve been translated into 32 languages. She has won a number of awards for her writing, including ALA’s Margaret A. Edwards Award for her contributions to young adult literature. She was recognized as a Library of Congress Living Legend and she was awarded the 2004 National Book Foundation medal for distinguished contribution to American letters.

Blume is a classic Artist Generation author. Here’s her Generation-Map connection to Amanda Palmer:

A lovely example of affinities between alternating generations. And how the teenage years are a very effective way to influence a generation. Show me the child of thirteen, and I’ll show you how they feel about the world when they become adults.

For a deeper insight into what the alternating-generation Young Adult fiction influence looks like, read the full Amanda Palmer/Judy Blume article here: