A year ago Martin Amis famously said he’d have to be brain damaged to write a young adult novel. This upset a number of people (almost all of them young adult authors, their editors, and various vampire fanboys), but didn’t bother me much. Probably because I enjoy and admire Mr. Amis’ writing. But not all of it. He’s written two dozen novels, and their quality, understandably, varies. So it made me wonder if you’d have to be any more brain damaged to write a lousy literary novel than a fantastic novel in an easily dismissed genre.

Cynthia Hawkins:  Hi Simon Smithson! Here we are again like an ’80s action sequel striving to be bigger and badder than last time. I’d just like to note that for the occasion I’m wearing mirrored sunglasses and just lit a match off my husband’s five o’clock shadow for no reason at all.  In other words, I’m ready to discuss The Expendables.