Hard News by Russell Brown

Read Post

Hard News: Doing anything Thursday?

207 Responses

First ←Older Page 1 2 3 4 5 6 9 Newer→ Last

  • giovanni tiso,

    I find it slightly disconcerting that adults now read stories written for children, while adult fiction is largely unread.

    Adult fiction is read just as much, and very probably more, than it ever has. But a lot more people read, and watch. And what we read, and watch, is largely escapist, and joyfully so, and what better, more imaginative place to escape to than fiction for children? But then we find that a disconcerting amount of intelligence is to be found therein. Drat, science-fiction and superhero stories grow in the telling and start telling us things about ourselves. There is no escape even in escapism! We are doomed.

    (What I do lament occasionally is that fiction for adults is so formulaic and trite, whereas the genuine stuff for children - say, your average Pixar movie - is far more complex and layered. That I find genuinely upsetting.)

    Give me Stan Lee over Ian Fucking McEwan, I guess, is my point. I don't care if one wrote for children, one for adults. The inescapable fact of the matter is that one is interesting, the other one just isn't.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7315 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    E M Forster, in Aspects of the Novel, responded to the claim that a novel was a good story with "oh dear."

    Yes, gods forbid anyone should read for pleasure. Make the peasants work for it.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4285 posts Report Reply

  • Mrs Skin,

    Thanks Jackie. Lovely escapism, regardless of whether it's recognisable from such prior gems as Fifth Form at St. Clare's (one of my childhood faves).

    LOTR... Proving that lawyers can take anything and pick it to pieces my property law lecturer - the Completely Frickn Awesome Richard Boast, do see him speak if you get the chance - used the ring-finding to illustrate the law of findings. It's the most enjoyment I've had from that story.

    Paul I didn't think you'd actually take that bait. Do feel free to recommend some adult fiction. I'm hopeless at finding new things in libraries.

    the warmest room in the h… • Since Feb 2009 • 168 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Ashby,

    @MrsSkin
    Being a good read is no guarantee, LotR is turgid stuff in the extreme in places, especially the second tome, but 'tis a classic nevertheless. There is much in the Potter books that will date and seem quaint and naive in the future. The series is also too long (and the later books far too thick) to survive well. 30+ years from now few will have complete series, 100 years hence will anyone? for a children's book?

    Dundee, Scotland • Since May 2007 • 425 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand,

    E M Forster, in Aspects of the Novel, responded to the claim that a novel was a good story with "oh dear."

    I kind of like Philip Larkin's idea of "A beginning, a muddle and an end"

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2217 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand,

    E M Forster, in Aspects of the Novel, responded to the claim that a novel was a good story with "oh dear."

    I kind of like Philip Larkin's idea of "A beginning, a muddle and an end"

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2217 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    E M Forster, in Aspects of the Novel, responded to the claim that a novel was a good story with "oh dear." By which he meant that a novel should be so much more than its story, which he regarded as something of an unfortunate necessity.

    I remember a young horror movie fan telling me that she'd been to see Howards End . As it didn't seem like her kind of movie I asked how she'd found it.
    "Oh it was alright I suppose". Then, after a moment: "When Anthony Hopkins said 'Come to dinner', I thought he was gonna eat them".

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 3291 posts Report Reply

  • Mrs Skin,

    @ Peter
    Yeah I know :) Turgid in the extreme is a pretty accurate description although I'd add unreadably boring to the list. Why it's a classic is always going to be a mystery into which I shall never be initiated.

    I don't know whether anyone will still have the complete series in 100 years, but I don't think that its being aimed at children will be a factor.

    I quite like quaint & naive, hence Fifth Form at St. Clare's, the complete Agatha Christie etc.

    the warmest room in the h… • Since Feb 2009 • 168 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    I kind of like Philip Larkin's idea of "A beginning, a muddle and an end"

    I come to PAS for the oysters, but I stay for the pearls.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7315 posts Report Reply

  • Mrs Skin,

    I kind of like Philip Larkin's idea of "A beginning, a muddle and an end"

    Note that this idea applies equally to 3rd-year essays, particularly those on the RMA. And even more particularly to those that are due soon & whose authors shouldn't be arsing about on the internet.

    the warmest room in the h… • Since Feb 2009 • 168 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Litterick,

    Give me Stan Lee over Ian Fucking McEwan, I guess, is my point. I don't care if one wrote for children, one for adults. The inescapable fact of the matter is that one is interesting, the other one just isn't.

    That is not a fact; it is an opinion, and you know it.

    And who said it was anything about making the peasants work? I really don't see how these classics of genre fiction are reading for pleasure. It all seems like work to me. You read one; it is long, long, long. The plot is complex. You finish that and there is another in the series, then another, then another. It is all easy money for the publishers, of course. The reader is trapped in a cycle of production, one blasted sequel after another.

    How about reading something short, that stands on its own; something written by someone from a different place and time. How about Calvino? Italian chap, wrote short stories.

    How about reading poetry? Larkin is a good read. How about essays?

    I would rather read something that can be picked up second hand or found on Internet than be part of some publishing empire's machine.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1000 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Ashby,

    @MrsSkin
    The difference of course between Mrs Christie and Ms Rowling are the former's books are self contained while the latter's need to be read in order to be made sense of. That makes Hercule et al more durable.

    Dundee, Scotland • Since May 2007 • 425 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    classics of genre fiction

    I love how a thread getting diverted onto televised scifi is the work of the devil, but literature is just fine thanks...

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 15711 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Ashby,

    Paul I know exactly of what you speak and I concur. Something nicely condensed like <i>The Metamorphosis</i> can stay in the mind far longer than some tale stretched to mediocrity by a publisher's demand for 'a nice trilogy'. There is pressure on authors for 'more of the same' too and rejection of books seen as too different from their previous works.

    Amazon et al were supposed to free us from all this but instead they charge publishers vast sums to even list their books meaning what can turn an easy buck still rules supreme.

    Dundee, Scotland • Since May 2007 • 425 posts Report Reply

  • Mark Harris,

    That is not a fact; it is an opinion, and you know it.

    Ah, but Giovanni didn't say which was which, which takes it from an opinion to a truism, which is truer than any fact, and that's a fact.

    Waikanae • Since Jul 2008 • 1343 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Litterick,

    I think his addition of an adjective to Ian McEwan's name revealed Giovanni's preference.

    Peter, Amazon have now removed adult books from their rankings. They say its a glitch but a hacker claims credit

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1000 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Litterick,

    Sacha, all I did was to quote some Eliot, with reference to Paul coming as his avatar. I thought the subject of what we will wear on Thursday had played itself out, but we can go back there if you wish.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1000 posts Report Reply

  • Mark Harris,

    Paul I'd like to abso-fucking-lutely agree with you.

    But I don't think I will.

    Waikanae • Since Jul 2008 • 1343 posts Report Reply

  • Roger,

    "We are grey, we stand between the darkness and the light"

    I am now just woried that I knew where that came from without looking it up. It is going to worry me all day!

    Auckland • Since Jun 2007 • 171 posts Report Reply

  • Mark Harris,

    When B5 came out, I was still a government bureaucrat. It resonated...

    Waikanae • Since Jul 2008 • 1343 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark,

    I come to PAS for the oysters, but I stay for the pearls.

    I love that, Giovanni.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3112 posts Report Reply

  • Michael Stevens,

    I would love to get there on Thursday but I'm going to my first ever Gay Stag Night.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 229 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    That is not a fact; it is an opinion, and you know it.

    Of course it's an opinion. It's also an opinion I shall take to my grave. And I'm not the only one who holds that our contemporary mythologies, that you group under the rubric of "genre literature" and "for children", are genuinely interesting and often in fact more interesting than what gets bundled in the mainstream. Umberto Eco, who knows his Thomas Aquinas backwards and reads more ancient poetry before breakfast than you and I do in a year, but also loves his Superman comics and his pulp novels, and of genuine, not condescending love, argued about this rather beautifully almost a half century ago in Apocalittici e integrati. It's a case that has been closed for quite some time, really.

    But then you shift the grounds of the arguemnt to a critique of the industry that produces genre fiction, trapping the reader in a cycle of production, one blasted sequel after another. And I'd have to ask - what's new there? Didn't Dickens work under those constraints? Didn't Dumas (senior)? And besides, there are plenty of authors who don't operate in that way, not to mention many more - I'm thinking of Neal Stepehenson, whose quasi-cycle of novels start in the future and works its way backwards to the 17th century, or Joyce, in the sequence that links Dedalus, Ulysses and Finnegans Wake - for whom that kind of scope sets precise poetic coordinates.

    But then you plunge some ugly depths of condescension here

    How about reading something short, that stands on its own; something written by someone from a different place and time. How about Calvino? Italian chap, wrote short stories.

    Because, really, what makes you think that the fact that we might watch and enjoy Battlestar Galactica or read and enjoy fantasy or romance novels or Harry Potter or whatever, means we don’t also read stuff that stands on its own and was written in a different place and time? To each their own prejudices, but the fact that your taste may be narrower than ours is not really our problem. And you shouldn’t really have brought up Calvino, because yes, he did write a book caleld Why We Should Read the Classics, but he also wrote a fantasy trilogy and more than a little science fiction, as well as researching and collecting the most amazing book of Italian fables, and arguing for their status of true literature. It’s a pretty fair bet that he would be horrified by the argument you’re trying to make here.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7315 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Gio, you can have my Gold Star.

    Well, I call it a star. It's a gold-painted baseball bat drilled out and filled with concrete, but the principle is much the same.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4285 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Gio, you can have my Gold Star.

    Well, I call it a star. It's a gold-painted baseball bat drilled out and filled with concrete, but the principle is much the same.

    I went from yay, gold star to oh, please don't hurt me.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7315 posts Report Reply

First ←Older Page 1 2 3 4 5 6 9 Newer→ Last

Post your response…

Please sign in using your Public Address credentials…

Login

You may also create an account or retrieve your password.