Rosanna Cooney vents some serious rage…
Look, cure this is very embarrassing. I wouldn’t even want to discuss it if I didn’t feel so aggrieved, so very victimized by the grubby world of literature. Surely not, you may say, shaking your head. Slander against the literary industry? The last vestige of honorable media left in this world? Books are the precious indicators of culture and a reasonable attention span, and you dare lump them as grubby? Yeah, I do.
I was gullible, a fool, it was late at night and I just wanted something for an hour before bed. This was my weakest moment, making a choice this important, in a vulnerable state, sucked in by a nice cover and good reviews. No, not just good reviews, wildly raving spectacular reviews. Shamefully I digested the fantastic snippets; “a high wire feat of bravura storytelling” a ‘literary miracle’ even, and I kick myself now for believing that a book which uses comic sans on its jacket could be “the best novel of the year.” There was even that holy headline, the one authors and publishers salivate over. You know it: #1 New York Times Bestseller. Because, you know if The New York Times ranks it then it must be worthwhile. No. Never. Stop now. Better to stick fingers in your eyes rather than look at their quantitative lies. The book in question even had one of those bright stickers, slapped on after the first print when a novel has been long listed for an Orange prize or Tiddlywinks award. I honestly think I was just attracted to the glamour of it all. 100 pages in and I was suspending my disbelief, hanging in that swinging stage of; “I must be missing something” rather than acknowledging my folly of selection. It was on page 251 that I realised I didn’t know the book’s title. I had picked it up and put it down any number of times yet the name eluded me.
Ten minutes after finishing the book I was unable to recall any of the main characters’ names. It was a meandering love story which took the author years to write, fifteen to be exact, and only moments to forget.
My complaint here however is not with this novel in particular, there are a lot of trite books and they serve their purpose on shelves and under tables. And it’s not the author’s fault his novel was amplified above its literary station. But how are we supposed to filter out the stunted from the worthy if the critics have gone all soppy?
(The book in question is Jess Walter’s- Beautiful Ruins)