Palimpsest  

Go Back   Palimpsest > Reviews > Book Reviews


Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 21st Feb 2005, 16:23   #21
John Self
Administrator
suffers from smallness of vision
 
John Self's Avatar
 
Join Date: 27 Jun 2003
Location: Belfast
Posts: 15,939
Default

Maybe we are wrong - maybe Kemp is actually a publicity-seeking quotemonger who loves nothing more than to see his name on the back covers of paperback books. I mean, how much more quotable could he get than:

Quote:
[C]omplex, suspenseful, reflective and humane, this novel about an expert on the human brain by an expert on the human mind reinforces his status as the supreme novelist of his generation.
__________________
Reading Vasily Grossman, Life and Fate | Asylum | Book List
John Self is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 21st Feb 2005, 17:53   #22
HP
Senior Palimpsester
suckles at the teat of the Palim-God
 
Join Date: 2 Dec 2004
Posts: 2,929
Default

Okay, so perhaps he's a smart cookie. A Rent-a-blurb bloke for a bob or several. But just so long as he agrees with me and thee, he's obviously a man who knows his literary onions, wouldn't you say? :wink:
HP is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 24th Feb 2005, 18:44   #23
ishmael
Junior Palimpsestarian
is new to Palimpsest
 
Join Date: 12 Nov 2004
Location: Durham
Posts: 5
Default

I've noticed a few posters have said they thought The Child in Time was "woeful" or "terrible".

I wonder whether you felt like this because of the way the debates between Thelma and Stephen seem a bit too "set-piece", like an essay on science rather than science integrated into the fiction? I know I certainly felt this was a problem with the book, but then again there are moments of brilliant discomfort - when he turns to find his child vanished, or when he "witnesses" his parents at The Bell - when you can't quite work out whether these are real moments of distorted space/time, or simply his fantasies.

Currently writing on the use (or abuse) of science in literature, so would be interested to hear your views.
__________________
The Pequod: Literary criticism, creative writing and photography.
ishmael is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 3rd Mar 2005, 23:24   #24
Jerkass
Palimpsestarian
eats too much cheese
 
Jerkass's Avatar
 
Join Date: 16 Dec 2003
Location: USA
Posts: 1,288
Default

I've just been assigned Atonement by my World Book Day group here at work, so it looks like I get to participate in this discussion, too.
__________________
"I learned never to drink anything out of a jar labeled 'w-i-s-k-i.'"
Jerkass is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 4th Mar 2005, 8:11   #25
ono no komachi
Senior Palimpsester
has the freedom of Palimp City
 
ono no komachi's Avatar
 
Join Date: 14 Aug 2003
Location: Gloucestershire
Posts: 3,467
Default

Ian McEwan had some intelligent things to say on The Culture Show this week during an item when Tim Lott was appealing for book suppliers to apply 'some kind of filter for the benefit of the discerning reader'. (The gist of the piece was that literature was suffering because more books are now being published than ever before - a bit like the '57 channels and nothing on' argument.)

McEwan pointed out in typically measured fashion that publishing fewer books wouldn't necessarily mean they would be higher quality. I'm definitely with him on this one.
ono no komachi is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 4th Mar 2005, 8:59   #26
jim
Palimpsestarian
worries mother
 
Join Date: 27 Feb 2004
Location: Essex
Posts: 760
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by ono no komachi
Ian McEwan had some intelligent things to say on The Culture Show this week during an item when Tim Lott was appealing for book suppliers to apply 'some kind of filter for the benefit of the discerning reader'. (The gist of the piece was that literature was suffering because more books are now being published than ever before - a bit like the '57 channels and nothing on' argument.)
Well it's a good job for Mr Lott that they don't otherwise he would never get published. I base this on the only book of his that I have read - White City Blue which I thought was very ho-hum. At least as a result of my Evening Standard boycott (now in its third week - Associated Press must be starting to feel the pinch) I no longer have to endure his smug weekly column.
jim is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 4th Mar 2005, 9:11   #27
ono no komachi
Senior Palimpsester
has the freedom of Palimp City
 
ono no komachi's Avatar
 
Join Date: 14 Aug 2003
Location: Gloucestershire
Posts: 3,467
Default

He did seem terribly up his own arse, I must say. This was the first time I'd ever heard of him, so I can't comment on the quality (or otherwise) of his writing.

At one point I did the Grumpy Old Woman thing of talking to the TV: "Well if you're that bloody discerning, you can filter your own reading, can't you!?"
ono no komachi is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 4th Mar 2005, 9:27   #28
HP
Senior Palimpsester
suckles at the teat of the Palim-God
 
Join Date: 2 Dec 2004
Posts: 2,929
Default

He's also talking complete poppycock. Since the collapse of the Net Book Agreement, which has allowed booksellers to flog books at the price they choose, not hat dictated by the publishers, things have changed considerably - and not entirely for the better. Supermarkets and WHSmith who can now shift vast volumes of books at crazy knock-down prices, have such buying muscle, that they will only take those authors who are guaranteed to sell in large numbers. This, in effect, may mean that more books are sold - as Mr Lott claims - but they're largely by the same old scribblers. Getting published is as difficult as it ever was. Add to this, the fact that so many of the small independent publishing houses, many of whom tried to offer diversity, challenging, and perhaps less commercial fare, have been swallowed up by the big boys whose eyes are firmly fixed on the bottom line and what you end up with is shelf upon shelf of crap like The Da Vinci Code.

By the way, have seen Tim Lott live. I haven't read his stuff, but can only hope his scribbling is a little more animated than he was.

Add: Another point people might not be aware of, is that supermarkets operate on a sale or return basis with the publishers. If a book hasn't sold X numbers in - just three weeks (or so one particular publisher insisted), then all unsold stock is returned to the publisher at no cost to the supermarket.
HP is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 4th Mar 2005, 9:35   #29
John Self
Administrator
suffers from smallness of vision
 
John Self's Avatar
 
Join Date: 27 Jun 2003
Location: Belfast
Posts: 15,939
Default

I agree with all anTimpathy. White City Blue, to go a little further than jim, was an atrocious blight on the face of literature. The only contemporary writer with pretensions to literature who's worse than Tim Lott is Toby Litt. By the names they may well be the same person. His subsequent novels Rumours of a Hurricane and The Love Secrets of Don Juan have received better press, but who cares to spend the money to take the chance? One strike and you're out.

Edit: to be fair, Honey, I believe all booksellers operate on sale-or-return. This is why, as wshaw pointed out, authors are so keen to sign their own books, even if they're just on the shelves and not at an event: because then they can't be returned to the publisher.
__________________
Reading Vasily Grossman, Life and Fate | Asylum | Book List
John Self is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 4th Mar 2005, 12:09   #30
HP
Senior Palimpsester
suckles at the teat of the Palim-God
 
Join Date: 2 Dec 2004
Posts: 2,929
Default

Oops, I stand corrected. Just to explain - every year a writers' conference is held in Winchester, not too many miles from where I live. It's been going some time and as a result, thousands upon thousands (well at least five K) of published, not-so-published-you'd-shout-about-it, and would-like to-be/desperate to be published writers attend, along with a fair selection of agents and publishing house editors. From agents and editors, the story is the same year after year: gloom, gloom and more gloom. The general gist being - at least for the amateur enthusiast contingent - write for pleasure not payment - or take up pottery. The sale or return basis thing was mentioned by at least two of those editors last year, but only in connection with the big supermarkets. I gather Tesco's, Asda, Waitrose and co are considered the bane of publishers' lives.

But anyway, if what you say is true, then that could well explain why my copy of Ian McEwan's Saturday was signed by the man himself. I found it - the only copy to be had - in our local Ottakars - all lovely and scrawled upon - but nowhere was there anything to show he had done a booksigning there. Hmm. Wonder how long I have to sit on it before it's deemed to be worth owt?
HP is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply



Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT +1. The time now is 4:19.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.