It turns out that Gerard has had enough. For the time being at any rate. Instead of regularly updating his site he’s going to do something different, though what it is he’s not yet sure.
Before leaving, however, he makes an exit speech, in which he tells the book world exactly what he thinks of it. And, as you would expect if you’ve ever read any Gerard, he is not too impressed. Here is just a sample of what he has to say about publishers:
He writes rather well when he gets up a head of steam, don’t you think so? I really like ole Gerard. He at least is not likely to get ulcers from repressing his emotions.
These guys have no clue what a good book even is anymore. They're schlock peddlers, first, foremost, last, always and only...and that they pass themselves off as the guardians of great literature makes it almost funny in a sad, sickening sort of way. They're the guardians of schlock. Schlock sells. They're the guardians of superficiality and stupidity. Superficiality and stupidity sells. Whose fault is that? Not mine. I don't read their stupid books. I write good books, instead, and even if I just read them myself and nobody else ever reads them I'm way better off in the long run, in the grand scheme of things, than I would be if I tried to please these useless, heartless, brainless,shameless, moneygrubbing morons.
Meanwhile he links us to an article in the Christian Science Monitor, which, he claims, says much the same things as he is saying, except in politer language. And he’s right, broadly speaking.
The article is written by one Gail Vida Hamburg who evidently has a ‘political novel’ coming out next year. Meanwhile she berates the publishers of this world for putting out ‘too many books of questionable literary quality.’
Well, stap me vitals. I never thought that I would be cast in the role of defender of the publishing establishment, but I have to say that I disagree with both Gerard and the lovely Gida over this one. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to criticise commercial firms for acting in a commercial way. And God forbid – please, please forbid – that anyone should succeed in persuading the Governments of either the USA or the UK to put out subsidised literary fiction, on the entirely spurious grounds that it is somehow good for people’s souls. We already have far too much of that sort of thing as it is.
Gail Vida Hamburg goes on to heap praise on the UK book world, which, she says, promotes its young writers and encourages reading. She quotes Booktrust and the Book Marketing Council as examples of UK organisations which do this noble work. Well, up to a point, yes. These organisations do ‘encourage young writers’, but only if you belong to the literary genre. I don’t see many arty-farty bodies supporting, say, writers of romantic fiction. Neither would I expect the Arts Council to give you a grant if you’re working on a detective novel.
Gail Vida Hamburg seems to be yet another example of the literary fiction fan who seems to think that the rest of us have a moral duty to share their rather odd enthusiasms, and that we are somehow demonstrating our intellectual inferiority if we happen to prefer, say, crime fiction or science fiction. Well, sorry, but I find the intellectual case for that wholly unconvincing.