Wednesday, 6 June 2007

A Book-blog, Quite Entertaining Really.

by Edwin Hesselthwite

Biblioliatry, a book-review blog written on the other side of the pond, is a favourite of mine that I have been meaning to advertise for a while.

As a male Bibliovore (I can play with Ancient Greek constructions too) I often feel a bit of an odd man out as a British consumer of fiction publishing. Fiction to me is very personal, I like to build a relationship with any book I enjoy, and I am always suspicious that publishers aim is much more social, targeting their books at book clubs and (the holy grail) television book societies... This has led me to distrust those little square Scandinavian style tables in Waterstones and Borders (such a subtle way of telling you what you ought to be reading), as they groan beneath the weight of tales of people heroically struggling against their limitations and overcoming their hurdles (ideally on a small mediterranean island while suffering from synesthesia). The tendency for heavy description and information dumping is far too obviously written with group-criticism in mind, where everyone must offer insight, conviction and show their appreciation of subtlety. The publishing world seems to view brevity, clarity and passion as a Hemingway-esque relic of the past.

I'll put it straight: modern literary fiction is not published with anyone like me in mind, and this makes me angry.

So, as I find myself steam-rolling through yet another pile of Gollancz's SF Masterworks, or another Eastern European inter-war text I unearthed in a second hand bookshop, it's reassuring to occasionally sit back and watch as an English teacher from Delaware ploughs through these modern future-classics. Her voracious appetite leaving their blood and gristle behind her, baking in the sun. I've watched as she slaughtered Coehlo's flaccid Alchemist, smiled as she did credit to Matheson's I Am Legend (although to say it wasn't scary enough was to entirely miss the point), and laughed as she rambled on about her desire to be a fluffy mammal in a Richard Adams novel. She also gave Don Delillo such a jackbooted kicking I would be amazed if he didn't need hospital treatment.

Its comforting to know there are people out there sustaining the publishing market (much as I may get angry about it, if you don't buy books first hand the publishing world cannot see you) who view books as a road to joy and enlightenment, without the requirement for them to sell their soul for nuance. So I'll stand back and observe as someone else does what I dread doing, and settles to my satisfaction the value of Anna Karenina.

Fiction should be a firestorm, not a fine wine.

A literary Chupacabra.


Bibliolatrist said...

Wow - thank you! I am quite honored!

I absolutely agree with you: literature should be a firestorm, and too many people over here are focused on trivialities like American Idol than on intellectual issues. If people were passionate about books (and, as a result, thinking), perhaps things would be a bit different.

That's why I'm all about the visceral, frenzied response over the "literary" one that may be objective but rarely gains converts.

Bibliolatrist said...

Speaking of I am comes the movie. They'll butcher it, y/n?

click here to watch