Tuesday, 23 December 2008
The Literary Crunch: the prospect f0r 2009
Another year ends and the prospects for what I generally call "serious writing" – which amounts to books actually written by the people whose names are on the spine with some impulse of imagination or truth behind them – seem as bleak as ever. One would like to be jolly and optimistic and Positive but the evidence simply smacks you in the face. The bookshops really say it more eloquently than I can: shelves filled with celebrity memoirs and cookery books often ghosted by someone else, a handful of 'literary novelists' allowed at the feast, and the products of marketingthink everywhere to be seen in the form of books cloned to look and feel like previously high-selling books and the really interesting and original ones hiding somewhere out of sight. As a member of the Society of Authors I undergo a regular mediaeval penance of self-flagellation called reading The Author which merely catalogues the decline of serious publishing and in particular the so-called "midlist" of not-quite-best-selling but decent books where most authors live and where the axe is increasingly going to fall. I would like, as I said, to offer a happy seasonal thought but it is impossible. In fact my Christmas Message is: things are far worse and far more alarming than anyone dares to say. This thing I was given to hang around my neck at the Edinburgh Festival in the summer should perhaps have been a necklace of thorns. Cheers!