This wasn’t the post I wanted to write today but having seen this yesterday I felt I had to comment on it, and I left it a day as well so it would be a more cohesive post but whether it has had any effect is open to conjecture.
I assume you have all read, or are at least aware of the Book bloggers are harming literature piece that The Guardian reported yesterday. Now normally I don’t care what the press says, as a lot of it is utter pointless rubbish that is of no real interest to the public at all. However as I see this as a personal attack upon myself and many others’ valid opinions I thought I may as well rant about it as well. However I may not be qualified to do so according to Peter Stothard.
Now I read a lot of Private Eye, which as you will probably know has no agenda and has its finger on the pulse when it comes to all matters hypocritical, corrupt or just plain dodgy. They regularly report how a number of critics, usually authors themselves with an affinity to a certain publisher will review books in glowing terms no matter their content, equally some have rubbished the books of their arch nemesis because of personal differences as opposed to the books content. Given that this is rife in the world of reviewers, then why not trust a review from someone with no axe to grind, who just wants to read and appreciate a good book for what it is.
If the opinion is online then it is there to be argued by anyone who comes across it, unlike the papers. Adialogue makes for a better understanding of the book from many points of view ,as I have discovered myself over the past months since restarting this blog and listening to you wonderful people.
Of course it doesn’t stop there, you go into a shop and publishing houses pay to be on the recommended lists and have their books upfront on show in high street stores, like they are something special when a lot of the time they aren’t. Fifty Shades of Grey anyone? With this lack of foresight into what is good literature, how are us ‘the common people’ expected to find the gems in amongst the advertised dross?
Fair enough, perhaps us bloggers write in an unstructured way and let our enthusiasm get the better of us sometimes, but we have no agenda and for me this is what makes us more viable review and honest in our assessments. I seem to recall Wuthering Heights getting panned by the established critics, heck even Van Gogh was widely panned and only sold one paining whilst he was alive.
So when it comes to it, is it just that the sheep like people have so little discrimination and understanding that they will pick up anything and destroy literature, or is it just that newspapers don’t sell and the opinions of the elitist reviewers lack the confidence of the people because us bloggers and in fact anyone with an enjoyment of books have become more trusted and personal sources for the masses these days?
Anyone who reads and has the ability to explain why they liked/disliked a book and give coherent reasons is fine by me. I think Mr Stothard should stop the snobbery and perhaps look at actually who exactly is harming literature.