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“Dick Laurent is dead.” parts 10 and 11 of 21.

Yesterday was a lousy day for writing. No-one’s fault really, but real life got in the way a little too much to get anything meaningful done, hence no post…

Over in the blogosphere, Eddie Campbell did have something to say about the Observer’s shaky attempt to define a graphic novel, and Mike Harrison observes what’s wrong with the book industry in the wake of Harry Potter and the commodification of literature by the free market:

Descriptions of reader behaviour based on the idea of the reader as a rational unit are as shaky as descriptions of fiction writers as failed businesspeople. Readers & writers understand the relationship they’re in. It is a dating relationship. They seek one another out along the bookshelves in the hope of adventure. Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn’t. Every date you go on is a gamble. Every encounter carries the potential for disaster. Every relationship you make might burn you. The only people who don’t understand this–or who regret, or deny, their understanding of it–are economists, whose mechanistic expectations are actually even less rational than ordinary irrational human behaviour.

Bloomsbury (who have demonstrated a flair for incredibly sensible behaviour in the past) are hamstrung by having two things, as far as I can see. Having J K Rowling on their books, and having shareholders. One is great, the other a necessary evil in the world today. Books aren’t pork bellies.

On a vaguely related theme (it’s one of those days) Neil points to Clive Barker’s impromptu speech on the state of genre. I don’t expect all of you to immediately go and read it (I don’t have that sort of power), but here are a few choice extracts:

what has happened historically is that the straight world, the world of straight critics and the people, the taste-makers, have taken the cream, if you will, off each generation and decided it is no longer generic, it’s ‘Classic’, right? And that’s fucked, let’s be honest, that’s fucked; it’s a lie.

We are in a tradition which began, we may assume, around campfires as stories were told and gods were made and goddesses were worshipped and the fundamentals, the primal concerns of human beings, were laid out.

I believe there will be people who look back, perhaps at this night and say, ‘Look who was there – ’ and run off the names and it will be clear that those names together did not represent an island – fuck an island – they were a huge force, they were a continent called the imagination…

Thankyou Clive. All power to the imagination. Damn official culture and damn the state we’re in.

Baldur linked to a piece on the future of the book the other day (sorry, can’t find the link), and now we have this. Might be interesting. Might be entirely pointless. Although starting with the proposition ‘Digitise or Die‘ isn’t leading me to believe that it’ll be anything we’ve not seen before.

Right. Autopsies. Back soon.


One comment for ““Dick Laurent is dead.” parts 10 and 11 of 21.”

  1. There you go. Glad to be of service :)

    Clive Barker is right. “Genre” is an arbitrary headfuck of a concept; it discriminates against structured insanity and rewards the methodical application of drudgework imagination.

    Art by rote. It’s the marriage of Skinnerism to narrative theory. It turns intermittent reinforcement into the only substance of joy in storytelling.

    Posted by baldur | April 5, 2007, 12:46 pm

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