Tuesday, 11 August 2009


I've been very busy over the last few months (and more). Writing. So I've not had a great deal of time to write about writing.

This morning, however, while doing my weekly major back-up, I did what I usually do - trawl through the book sections of the websites of the more respectable UK newspapers. I do it once a week and, to be honest, I don't know why I bother any more.

Quite aside from the monotonous exchanges in the forums (same old people saying the same old things and never actually 'listening' to or thinking about what anyone else has to say), the content of the book sections is so depressing it makes me weep.

Because the content matches those self-same commentators. It is the same old stuff (which, presumably, people are paid disproportionate sums to create). Reviews, on the whole, are dull; and the books that are reviewed are, on the whole, 'safe'. Articles are often poorly researched and make huge assumptions about the world of books that could only be made by those comfortably off and living in the literary ghetto. Opinion pieces... well, you hear more interesting stuff from that slightly grubby drunk that is propped up by the end of the bar.

I have tried looking elsewhere, but haven't had the time of late to spend on an extended search. But where, oh where, are all the lively, open (and polite) forums that present and allow discussion of good writing? Places that welcome outsiders, places that are truly interested in stretching the boundaries of writing and can manage to do this without mentioning: the Booker (or any other prize), Kindle (or any other e-reader), Twilight, The Wire; or any of those other topics that people feel the need to throw in and which demonstrate a paucity of imagination and unwillingness to engage with things beyond the mainstream. Is there such a place? Is there a place where people don't care about genre because they understand it is mostly a marketing convention that makes it easier for people to find the kind of story they like and has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the quality of writing? Is there a place where people are happy to admit they enjoy the Beano just as much as they enjoy Beckett; where it's not a crime to admit to reading Edgar Rice Burroughs and William Burroughs; where good craft is the key?

I hope there is. And if anyone out there knows of such a place, I do hope they will let me know.


Carol said...

Sorry, I can't recommend a good site (If you find one then please let me know) but I can, however, recommend a good book!!

If you've not read it give "Geek Love" by Katherine Dunn a go...I think you might like it!! (But do check out the reviews on it first just in case I am waaaay off!!)

C x

Graeme K Talboys said...

Ooh. I've just had a look at that and it sounds right up my street; the kind of thing Aldiss and others were addressing. I've just added it to my wish list. Many thanks.

If I do find a good site, I'll make sure everyone knows.