You don’t deserve books

Phil: I was going to base this post on the article in the Observer bemoaning the death of chick-lit. The premise is interesting and since we’ve written a novel that might be in this category, I ought to be really concerned that the market for the genre has dipped by 10%.

But then I read the comments. There I discover that Phud defines chick-lit as “Shoes, shopping and shagging. Turgid, whimsical bollocks written by middle-class, middlebrow, wine-sipping chocoholics.”

This has me worried. Am I a middlebrow, wine-sipping chocoholic ? If I am, should I care ?

Let’s start from the top. I am middle-class, in fact both of us are. There are a lot less working-class people in the UK than there are people who claim to be. If you are sitting in an office and sipping a coffee that didn’t come out of a jar marked instant, then you can stop pretending to be one with those toiling at the coal face or labouring in an ironworks.

Middelbrow ? I had to look this up since a brow in the middle of your face is probably a mustache. According to Wikipedia, the term middlebrow describes both a certain type of easily accessible art. Is this a bad thing ?

Wine-sipping. Not me. I don’t understand the stuff. Give me proper British beer. I won’t be mentioning Candice’s drinking habits, but if anyone else wants to in the comments…

Finally, chocoholic. Not me. Never touch the stuff. Honest.

So we probably are everything Phud hates.

Actually, if I want that sort of odium, then the Guardian/Observer message boards are the place to go, in the mainstream anyway. Left wingers are often portrayed as humorless miseries and a very small number of them do their best to fit the caricature. You can’t simply enjoy something, the pleasure has to be earned. It’s a bit opus dei for me. The pleasure is in the pain of the journey rather than the destination. Maybe if we insist readers flagellate themselves while reading, our book will be seen as a “good” thing.

Why is it that “hard” art and literature is seen as better than the accessible stuff ? Jack Vettriano is loved by millions but according to the art world, his output is rubbish. Surely there is a skill in making things easy for people ? No one ever tells you that a difficult to follow set of instructions is better than an easy to read version do they ?

Not being one to miss a marketing opportunity, if you feel that a book should be an agony to read, should you not only be a “glass half empty” person but a “glass half empty and what there is in there is a sprinkle of broken glass and a pile of puetird dung” person then please buy the special edition of ours. It’s will cost £5000 but I will personally come round and jab you with sharp objects as you read. And shout rude words. You don’t get the last 3 chapters either ‘cos you might enjoy finding out how it all ends. That way you can be miserable and happy.

 

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3 Comments

Filed under Phil, Writing

3 responses to “You don’t deserve books

  1. Andy in Germany

    I get the same: all through my theatre school I was made to read turgid depressing plays (34 in all) because they were ‘great theatre’. I was bored out of my tiny middlebrow mind.

    The only exception was Shakespeare, that elitest writer whose plays were so accesible hey packed out theatres. And who is now considered a great playwright. Hmm, funny that.

  2. Shakespeare plays are great to watch being performed and suprisingly accesible and enjoyable. Which is why schools make you read the things from the page to suck every last bit of pleasure from them. I don’t care what anyone says, watching a Midsummer Nights Dream and reading it as a bored 14 year old are two completely different experiences.

  3. idea1

    1. Shoes, shopping and shagging.
    Think they are in your book.

    2.Turgid, whimsical bollocks written by middle-class, middlebrow, wine-sipping chocoholics.
    Didn’t spot any turgidity. Slightly whimsical in tone. Definately none of them in it. Middlebrow yes. Half of the writing team I suspect is a wine-sipper. Must be another Phil Parker who was waxing lyrical over a chocolate cake on his blog then.

    Have to admit that I sipped a bit of wine, a rather rough Madiran red since you ask, whilst eating a specially imported chocolate Hob Nob when reading young Kate’s epic adventure.

  4. I got the same at uni, doing an art degree. In year two, we chose our specialisms – I went for Illustration. I went up to the large hall to choose my studio space. But I was told to wait until the “artists” had their spaces as I was doing “only illustration.” It’s “better” to be doing impenetrable drivel that resides in galleries and gets seen by a handful of critics and wannabes, than creating beautiful and meaningful artworks that enliven books, magazines and articles, seen by thousands of people.

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