Mark is chillin’ this morning with a cup o’ joe and the latest reviews of literary fiction and wondering a bit if things aren’t just too cozy.
While we spend our time worrying about nasty reviews, over in the UK they’re wondering if things haven’t gotten too polite.
“There is something wrong with our literary journalism. Too many book reviewers are too respectful of established reputations, their voices hushed, their opinions predictable and tentative. Too many reviewers are overcome by deference to say what they really think about the mediocre novels, especially if those novels are by writers of world renown.”
I’d have to agree with the Guardian article he’s quoted. I used to write some really scathing reviews on another site, boiling hot oil unceremoniously dumped on the heads of the pretentious scribblers of the world. Not only did it feel good, but it was well deserved in my opinion. So many writers, especially in the world of literary fiction, seem to think that there’s no reason to actually tell a story anymore. They got off the train at Bloomsbury and never figured out that writing is a lot more than painting with words.
Oh, I’m all for experimentation, but I think most writers are better off leaving their experiments in the lab. Of course that doesn’t happen, which is why we end up with trade paperbacks trying to make a valiant effort at saving literary fiction. A ploy that the Grumpy Old Bookman is happy to slay.
Various people are asking whether trade paperbacks can save literary fiction.
The answer is no. Nothing can save literary fiction. It isn’t a question of format or cost; it’s a question of boredom.
You can fool some of the people some of the time, and you can even fool the same people for several years — or books — at a time. But eventually the penny drops.
Such common threads here. Polite literary reviews are generally written by novelists earning the crust. It’s sort of like writing workshops and such. Everyone is so nice and kind because there’s a check in it for everyone to be nice and kind. No one wants to get angry and point out that someone else’s work is so much termite fodder. That sort of talk isn’t good for business.
This brings us back to the question of trade paperbacks, which are just another way of getting people to pay more for less. I don’t fault the publishing industry though. They’ve got to make a buck.
Mary Delli Santi of [Bookblog.net] wrote a great series of lessons on the publishing trade over on litkicks. If you’re at all interested in this self-feeding cycle of literary hooptedoodle, check it out. I’ve got to get back to my pulp, where the real stories are.