Wednesday, June 16, 2010


I am not sure about writers any more. I begin to think
they make too much of themselves. It’s not entirely their
fault, the poor sods: publishers and publicists are at
them all the time, demanding that they do tricks, jump
for fish and balance balls on the ends of their noses. The
book is in danger of being supplanted by the writer,
because the book qua book is just too hard for us to take.
As Rilke said, beauty is only the beginning of a terror we
can barely endure. Art, unmediated art, is a tough call in
these times: we need the backstory, the creative process,
the press release, the launch. We have to know that an
individual who could have been us did this thing. Thus
the writer, a cringing creature at the best of times,
someone who, as Colm Tóibín says, ought never to get
out of their mental pyjamas, is thrust forward blinking
into the light and told to hustle product. Some do it well,
of course, but the inexorable effect of writerization is the
diminution of the work.

We readers (consumers) are also terrified of our own
judgments and crave guidance on what to like and what
not to like. Imagine the sheer horror of picking up a new
book and knowing nothing at all about it. Panicking, we
turn to the flap for information on the author; rush to the
internet and google up some reviews; anchor ourselves in
the sheltered harbour of the already. Whew. Could have
got drowned out there.

1 comment:

Tibordari said...

Dead right, cobber. But first we kill all the lawyers.