Monday, March 22, 2004

Henderson's Spear

Just finished reading Henderson’s Spear by Ronald Wright. This is a literate (rather than literary) book by a well read, well educated man who knows how to bolt together a story. I can’t say I read every word, but with judicious skipping I enjoyed it.

But the question that occurs to me now is this: Who is going to write this kind of book in the future? If our wonderfully efficient and effective profit-making big-time publishing companies are really only interested in the immediately exploitable, who is going to bother putting out this sort of a book? No one, I suspect. And who is going to bother to write them? Even in the old days, the only person who could really afford to write a book like this was someone with a private income.

At the end of his novel, Wright provides a list of acknowledgements for help given and a list of sources. Which reminds me. A while back I submitted a novel (Beautiful Lady) to one of the publishing tribe who are thanked by Wright, and had it sent back with the comment that it revealed 'an absence of any research into the WWII period.' The 'subsequent inaccuracies', it was said, made the book unacceptable.

Since I had, as usual, gone to almost obsessive lengths to get my facts right, I wrote back. I pointed out that at the end of my novel I had provided (like Wright) a list of books which were 'particularly useful when researching the period covered by the novel.' As for the 'subsequent inaccuracies', I said, no doubt the editor in question had a list of them, and perhaps he would be kind enough to send me a copy.

I’m still waiting. And such, I'm afraid, are the daily nonsenses with which writers are assailed by publishers.

1 comment:

TechSmurf said...

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