In last Saturday's Times, James Delingpole wrote a column headed 'A novelist writes: modern fiction is so tedious.'
In the first paragraph he reveals that Juliet Walters, a reviewer at the Montreal Mirror, has described him as the greatest English novelist since the young Martin Amis. Mr Delingpole thanks her for what he interprets as a compliment. Well, if it is a compliment, it's a backhanded one. Describing someone as the best English novelist since the young Martin Amis is a bit like telling a woman that she's the most beautiful creature you've seen since Godzilla.
Anyway, to the point, which is the second half of Delingpole's heading. After some muttering about the Booker prize long-list, a yawn-making event if ever there was one, he says, quite rightly, that life is too short to bother with contemporary fiction. He adds that he recently had dinner with a literary editor and a book reviewer and they both felt the same way. Neither of them could think of a novel that they had read in the past year that they had properly enjoyed, apart from one by Wilkie Collins.
Well, my friends, the solution to this problem is all very simple, and is offered in this blog on an almost daily basis. The rules for enjoying your fiction reading are as follows:
1. Ignore anything literary, particularly if it's just out.
2. Investigate the past.
3. Poke your nose into the much despised genres, such as sci fi, fantasy and crime. True, you will find an awful lot of garbage. But what is garbage to you may be a source of joy to somebody else. And vice versa.
4. Read this blog. I do my best, as and when I find something remarkable, either old or new, to draw it to your attention.