Critique My Critique: Lev Grossman and being “Subversive”

“Perhaps if one knows Lev Grossman they will understand the clever joke behind it all, but your reader shouldn’t have to know you in order to understand your intent.”

PINEkindling Wordsmithery

It has been pointed out that these critiques may suggest that I don’t understand what Lev Grossman was doing with The Magicians—that is, writing a “subversive” adult version of children’s high fantasy, in which the terrible realities of our world aren’t hidden, but rather that the “reality” of having magic and the world being magical, would actually not be so full of wonder and awe as it is in Narnia and Harry Potter.

Trust me, I understand. Grossman goes out of his way to hammer you over the head with how depressing and sad he thinks the world actually is. But let me be clear—simply because he was attempting to be subversive in fantasy, does not mean he succeeded. The main character being depressed and the reality of his dreams always being disappointing is not subversion—it’s a misunderstanding of the genre and it’s boring.

First, to be subversive in…

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