I have never been happy about child prodigies. If I was religious, I would thank God for not having given me brilliant children. Bright, yes. Thank you, Lord. But not brilliant.
Apart from any other reason for distrusting early signs of genius, I spent most of my working life with people with IQs approaching 200, and you pretty soon learn that a man (or woman) can be a world-class physicist or mathematician and still display a remarkable reluctance to do anything sensible.
Anyway, Friday brought news of a couple more child prodigies for me to worry about. An anonymous commenter on the Libby Rees saga gave me a link to the web site of Adora Svitak, who is 8 years old, or thereabouts, and is described (by Good Morning America, no less) as 'a tiny literary giant'. The web site calls her a writer, poet, and humanitarian.
Hmm. Well, one thing's for sure; the media love her. Naturally. Whether it's good for a kid that age to be feted by national (US) TV is a different matter. The web site features extracts from Adora's various works, and, yes, she does have a blog.
I worry about this kid's future. And as if that wasn't enough, the web site has a link to info about another of the same. This girl is is Akiane, and the front page of her web site labels her officially as a child prodigy. She is also described as 'the only known child binary genius'. And she's been on Oprah, so it must be true.
Well, that's quite enough of all that for me, thank you.
And if you want to know what happens to children who get masses of media attention when they're young, the answer (apparently) is that they grow up to be novelists.
Take Macaulay Culkin, for example. Last heard of living in an apartment in New York and getting drunk with lots of young friends (oh, and giving evidence for Michael Jackson), Culkin, it appears, has been busy. He's been writing a novel. Well, a sort of novel.
The Book Standard gives us an early peek at the forthcoming Kirkus review of Macaulay Culkin's book Junior. The reviewer doesn't quite say This is a heap of shit, but he/she might just as well have, because that's what the review amounts to. The book, says the reviewer, 'briefly ascends to the level of mediocrity. Filled with jokes lacking wit, introspection devoid of insight, poetry made of nothing, this is a work frustratingly short on substance.'
This is going to annoy quite a few people, I feel. The book, that is. Not the review. I wonder what the advance was?