How John Green Wrote a Cancer Book but Not a 'Bullshit Cancer Book'

That really resonates with my own memories of being an adolescent, or even younger -- the feeling that adults around you underestimate you.

Yeah! Well, and, you are. Part of the reason it's a problem [is], like, you are underestimated by the adults around you, but also, you don't give them any reason not to underestimate you. Because you don't have the same framework for talking about the day's interesting questions. So, you know, maybe you've read Prufrock and Gatsby, but you haven't read as broadly or thoughtfully or as long as the adults in your life have.

Like, I remember when I was in college, I had this wonderful writing teacher named P.F. Kluge, and the first day of class, the very first thing he said to us was, "You may be smart, but I've been smart longer."

And as I get older, that line only gets more and more brilliant.

This is another question from the Twitter conversation: Some of the readers were picking up on that there are a lot of interesting allusions and other references throughout the book, including hamartia, a tragic flaw, and Zeno's paradox, for examples. And they were wondering whether you had in mind readers who were armed with Google.

[Laughs] Well, I mean, I'm aware of the fact that I live in 2013 and that the book is set in 2012, you know. But, you know, to be honest with you, I don't know if this is going to sound unreasonably pretentious, but I expect readers to know what a hamartia is, and I expect them to know what Zeno's paradox is.

And if they don't, they'll learn.

Yeah. I mean, that's the great thing about, whether they're using print encyclopedias or Google, that's the great thing about it these days. I've always felt that way in my books, actually. Part of the thrill of celebrating that teen intellectualism, where you're reaching keeps exceeding your grasp just a little bit, is in learning, is in getting excited about learning. So there's a lot of examples of that in The Fault in Our Stars: Hazel is wrong about infinite cardinality when she talks about infinite cardinality, when she talks about there being infinite numbers between 0 and 1, and 0 and 2, and Gus frequently misuses big words and stuff. But their intellectual enthusiasm is really appealing to me.

I saw that there is a movie version in the works. I'd like to know your thoughts on it, whether you've been involved in any of the early stages ...

Yeah, I'm involved. They've shared every draft of the script with me -- the script is amazing, so I don't have a ton to say about it. I mean, I have a ton to say about it, but ... They've certainly listened to everything that I've said really closely. I feel like I've gotten to know the screenwriters quite well. And I'm really, really, really a huge fan of the director ... I think he's brilliant. I think he understands the book in a really profound way. I think he's really committed to the stories, and that's a special and rare thing out there in Hollywood.

We're getting to the end of my questions here. I see that you and your wife are expecting, so congratulations.

Thank you.

And I was wondering, beyond family expansion, whether you have any up-and-coming projects you're working on right now that you think Fault in Our Stars fans would like to hear about.

I'm sure you'd like to hear about me writing another book, but I'm not writing one. I'm working a lot on YouTube stuff. We have an educational program called Crash Course that my brother and I have both really thrown ourselves into in the last year, and that we're really passionate about. That's taking up a lot of my time. I'm just starting to write -- I've been saying that for six months but it's true now -- so hopefully I'll finish something in the next few years.

Well, thank you so much, and don't forget to be awesome!

Yeah you too! DFTBA!

 

 

Correction: This piece originally stated that the Twitter Q&A was on Monday, not Wednesday, night.

 

 

Presented by

Rebecca J. Rosen is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where she oversees the Business Channel. She was previously an associate editor at The Wilson Quarterly.

The Blacksmith: A Short Film About Art Forged From Metal

"I'm exploiting the maximum of what you can ask a piece of metal to do."

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Riding Unicycles in a Cave

"If you fall down and break your leg, there's no way out."

Video

Carrot: A Pitch-Perfect Satire of Tech

"It's not just a vegetable. It's what a vegetable should be."

Video

An Ingenious 360-Degree Time-Lapse

Watch the world become a cartoonishly small playground

Video

The Benefits of Living Alone on a Mountain

"You really have to love solitary time by yourself."

Video

The Rise of the Cat Tattoo

How a Brooklyn tattoo artist popularized the "cattoo"

More in Entertainment

Just In