On the Hunger Games trilogy

Reality Hunger

Authenticity, Heroism, and Media in the Hunger Games
By Ned Vizzini

When I was nineteen, slightly older than Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games (and worse at archery), I was invited to leave my home and journey to a faraway land to prepare for a new chapter in my life. The faraway land was not the Capitol but Minneapolis, Minnesota. The new chapter was not a pubescent deathmatch–I had just been through that in high school–but a professional arena where every day contestants young and old are ground up and forgotten, driven to alcoholism, and sent back to graduate school. I was going to be a published author. My publisher had decided that I needed “media training.”

I arrived at MSP Airport with scant television experience. In grade school I had been on a Nickelodeon “Big Help” public service ad raking leaves and was given 0.2 seconds of screen time; as an infant I had failed out of auditions for a diaper commercial. (I could still end up in an adult diaper commercial.) The publisher was betting that this track record would change, because I was young enough and likable enough to do talk shows. I had to be ready. Being on television talk shows is a coup for any author. Most of the time if you see an author on TV, you are watching BookTV on CSPAN, and the only other person watching is my father.

An editor met me at the airport. She brought me to a restaurant where I saw “Beer Cheese Soup” on the menu. I learned it was a Minnesota specialty and ordered it. Like the lamb stew that Katniss gushes over in The Hunger  …

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