Q:In your tfios question tuesday video you mentioned you made a screenplay for paper towns and had Quentin pursue a totally different girl. WHAT? CAN WE EVER SEE THIS SCREENPLAY. WHOS THIS GIRL. WHAT
1. The girl is Lacey.
2. You cannot see the screenplay, because I do not own it and therefore do not have the right to distribute it. This is a ridiculous situation, because the people who do own it will never turn it into a movie or release it in any form. (Screenwriters who are paid to write scripts basically never own their scripts.)
3. It was not that good, so you aren’t missing out on much.
Can anyone give me an unbiased opinion of John Green books?
Maybe opinion isn’t the best word to go with unbiased. Style overview, maybe?
Teens don’t sound like that; we get that road trips are a metaphor for adolescence; manic pixie dream girls (or boy); they’re all the same; teenagers aren’t as smart as he makes them seem; people only like his books because the Internet.
John Green, everyone.
Yes, to be clear, since people are getting upset, I WROTE THIS. I was making fun of myself. But now I feel the need to defend myself against the terrible accustations that I earlier made, so fine:
1. Lots of good novels involve the use of heightened language and/or don’t attempt to perfectly replicate human speech.
2. Road trips are a good metaphor for adolescence, and I have used the metaphor twice: In Katherines, where the road trip lasts about ten pages, and in Paper Towns, where the road trip lasts about 30 pages. Road trips comprise about 3% of my published work. I’ve devoted almost as much space to Moby Dick, and probably more to jokes about testicles. (TFiOS is sometimes accused of featuring a road trip, but it doesn’t. It does contain travel, but then again, so do most human lives in the contemporary industrialized world.)
3. Augustus Waters is not a Manic Pixie Dream Boy, and Hazel’s initial misimagining of him (and Gus’s initial wish to be misimagined) falls away pretty quickly. Both Alaska Young (in LfA) and Margo Rothe Spiegelman (in Paper Towns) are imagined by the boys who adore them as manic pixie dream girls, but in both cases, this inability to see a young woman as fully human has disastrous consequences, and in Paper Towns the dirty pernicious lie of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl is repeatedly and violently destroyed. In fact, that’s essentially the plot of Paper Towns.
4. Stop telling teenagers how smart they aren’t.
5. The Internet has definitely been good for (and kind to) my books, but for the record, nerdfighters report enjoying TFiOS about as much as, for lack of a better term, “regular people.” If my books were read primarily by people who liked them because the Internet, you’d expect the ratings at goodreads* to be high initially but then as word spread out to “regular people” and they started reading the book, the ratings would go down significantly. (This happened to Paper Towns, for instance, and it happens to most books by authors with built-in fan bases.) But with TFiOS, the ratings have been very stable: The first 50,000 ratings averaged 4.55; the most recent 50,000 ratings have averaged 4.54.
(For the record, there are lots of good and fair criticisms of my books, and I certainly don’t think they are amazing or anything. I just don’t think these particular criticisms hold up to scrutiny.)
* Because so many people use goodreads, it is an amazingly good—and amazingly underutilized—resource for understanding what people read, why, and how they feel about their reading experiences.
Oh, I was hoping someone would notice that.
(However, please bear in mind that I will be begging you to donate to the Project for Awesome beginning in about 48 hours, so…yeah. Don’t spend money on this that you would otherwise donate to the p4a. But if you’re looking for an attractive, book-ish, autographed gift in the $50 range for someone in your life, THEN I AM HERE TO HELP.)
This box set collection of my books with signed copies of Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars is coming BACK to Amazon in a limited quantity and is available for preorder now. For this, I am thankful.
SOME QUESTIONS AND THEIR ANSWERS:
Q. How is this possible?
A. I am signing a lot ofbooks to make it happen. Many people who wanted box sets didn’t get them because Amazon ran out so fast, and this made me sad, particularly since the holidays are coming up. So this is happening due to 1. much pleading on tumblr and 2. my
addiction to love of signing things.
Q. Why is it so expensive?
A. I have no control over whether, or when, Amazon discounts the stuff they sell. I am hopeful that they will discount it at some point in the future, but I can’t guarantee it, and they have not discounted it yet.
Q. Will it ship in time for the holidays?
A. Probably not by Hanukkah, but hopefully by Christmas. While I’m optimistic about delivery by Christmas, I definitely can’t guarantee it. It depends partly on how long it takes me to sign these books, which I am going to go back to signing as soon as I finish this tumblr post.
Q. Is there anywhere else I can find these box sets?
A. Yes, many bookstores have rare UNSIGNED box sets, and many Books-a-Million stores have box sets containing signed TFiOS (but not Alaska). You can also find signed copies of Looking for Alaska at many independent bookstores across the country.
Q. What if I don’t live in the US?
A. These signed box sets are only available through Amazon USA, so you’d have to pay the extra shipping, and they’re unlikely to arrive before Christmas. On the upside, you probably have free healthcare, so that’s something.
Two beautiful new watercolor posters from nerdfighter Mei are now available for pre-order. Only 950 of each of these will be printed, and all will be signed by Mr. J-Scribble himself, John Green!
Apparently I have still not saturated the market for my autograph. I will continue to try. (But that aside, these paintings are beautiful. I’m so grateful Mei likes my work enough to incorporate quotes into her paintings.) Both available for preorder now at dftba records.
On the Acquisition of Autographs
Q. blamemisha (and many others) asks: Are those boxsets with autographed versions of tfios and looking for alaska completely sold out? … Buying your boxset from others on amazon for over $100 is a bit much!
I also really dislike the idea of you buying a $250 box set from someone just because it has my signature when you could buy the exact same thing without my signature for $47.22. One of the central motivations for signing my name so many times in the past 16 months has been my desire to kill the market for my autograph by flooding it with supply, so I am annoyed when I see someone try to make a $200 profit off two small scratches I made on a page using a Sharpie.
Here are some options:
1. Wait until we meet somewhere down the line at a book signing, and I will sign your books then.
2. Try to find a signed box set at a bookstore during the holiday season.
3. Buy one of these signed posters for $15, desecrate the beautiful poster by cutting out my signature, then glue said signature into your book. This will run you about $63, which is still $17 less than the retail price of the box set.
4. Decide that autographs are kind of overrated anyway, particularly when the guy in question has A. frankly a really underwhelming signature, and B. signed like 200,000 things, meaning that unsigned box sets are actually rarer and therefore cooler and more valuable than signed ones.
In today’s video, I ask the question of whether businesses need to suck as we continue our efforts to keep DFTBA Records from sucking.
I have updated the Q&A blogs about my books…
DO NOT click these links if you haven’t read the book in question, as there are massive spoilers.
I do stand by the massively unerotic blow job.
In a related story, I’ve answered many new questions over at the Q&A blogs for people who’ve read my books. DO NOT click these links if you haven’t read the books in question, as there are massive spoilers, but here they are:
Looking for Alaska: onlyifyoufinishedalaska.tumblr.com
An Abundance of Katherines: onlyifyoufinishedkatherines.tumblr.com
Paper Towns: onlyifyoufinishedpapertowns.tumblr.com
Will Grayson, Will Grayson: onlyifyoufinishedwgwg.tumblr.com
The Fault in Our Stars: onlyifyoufinishedtfios.tumblr.com
If you’re interested in submitting a question, please do so, but take a moment to read through all the previously answered questions, because your Q may have already been A’d. Thanks!
In Defense of Symbolism
Where did the strings metaphor inPaper Towns come from?
Someone said it to me once, after a friend had attempted suicide, that “maybe all the strings inside him broke,” and I liked that image a lot because 1. puppets, and 2. We are all aware that there is this emotional/psychological life inside of us, right? But it’s very difficult to talk about, because it doesn’t have a physical location.
When your back hurts, it’s relatively easy to address this problem using language: You say, “My back hurts,” and I can understand what you mean, because I also have a back, and it has hurt before, and I remember that pain, which makes it easier for me to empathize with you.
It is much harder for me to empathize with you if what hurts is abstract. When people are imagining sadness or despair, they often try to render it in terms we find familiar. You often hear, “My heart hurts,” for instance, or “My heart is broken.” This problem, of course, is not actually in the heart.
(I do think a lot of people feel emotional pain physically near the solar plexus, but it’s not the physical manifestation of emotional pain that makes it so difficult: It’s the emotional/psychological/spiritual/whatever pain itself, which you can’t describe easily in concrete terms.)
To talk about emotional pain (and lots of other emotional experiences), we are forced to use abstractions. (“My heart is broken,” is a symbolic statement.) And many people feel, in this world driven by data and statistics and concreteness, that abstractions are inherently kind of less valid than concrete observations. But emotional experience is as real and as valid as physical experience. And the fact that we have to use metaphor and symbolism to describe that pain effectively does not make it less real—just as abstract paintings are not inherently inferior to representational paintings.
You often hear in high school English classes, for instance, that thinking about symbols is dumb or useless or “ruining the book.” But underneath it all, this is why we have language in the first place. We don’t really need language to share the news of your back pain: You can point at your back and grimace to tell me that your back hurts, and I can nod sympathetically.
But to explain to you the nature and nuance of my grief or pain or joy, I need abstractions. I need symbols. And the better our symbols are, the more clearly we’ll be able to communicate with each other, and the more fully we’ll be able to imagine each other’s experience. Good symbolism makes empathy easier.
So why the strings? The strings inside a person breaking struck me as a better and more accurate abstract description of despair than anthropomorphized symbols (broken heart, etc.).
And this is very important to remember when reading or writing or painting or talking or whatever: You are never, ever choosing whether to use symbols. You are choosing which symbols to use.
For People Who’ve Read My Books
Only click these links if you’ve read the book in question! There are many spoilers.
Having answered a lot of your questions over at Only If You Finished TFIOS, I’ve now collected the Q’s and A’s on my web site, where they are better organized and searchable and stuff. I’ll continue to answer questions on the tumblr, which will periodically be added to my web site.
Because people seem to have enjoyed asking questions and I’ve enjoyed trying to answer them, I’ve now set up tumblrs for all of my books.
And here is Only if You Finished (An Abundance of) Katherines.
And here is Only if You Finished Paper Towns.
You can follow these blogs to see questions as I answer them. Also, please submit questions about the books. I will endeavor to answer them, or else explain why I feel unqualified to answer them. (Please bear in mind I can only answer a fraction of the questions, as there are lots of repeats, etc.) Eventually, they’ll be organized and made searchable on my site. You can submit a question even if you don’t have a tumblr by submitting anonymously.
It’s a box set containing all four of my solo novels in hardcover, and both Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars are signed. The case for the box set, which is really amazing, was designed by nerdfighter extraordinaire Karen Kavett. It also includes a hardcover edition of the new cover for An Abundance of Katherines designed by the awesome Sarah Turbin. The box set is really beautiful (I’ve just seen one), and I’m psyched about it.
I’ve received lots of questions about whether this is real, etc., so yes, it is real, and yes, it is available for preorder.
SOMEWHAT RELATED: While signing for the box set, I signed a lot more copies of Looking for Alaska (I really enjoy signing my name), and starting in Octoberish, you’ll be able to find them in independent bookstores (and only independent bookstores!) around the United States.