Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Sam Bourne finally makes it

As noted here on several occasions, most notably perhaps on 3 April, it has taken some time for The Righteous Men, by Sam Bourne, to achieve the recognition which is, as all right-thinking folk will agree, the birthright of any novel written by a Fleet Street journalist and agented by the all-powerful Jonny Geller.

At last, however, Bourne (aka Jonathan Freedland, political columnist of the Guardian) has made it: he is officially on Richard and Judy's summer reading list. And if that doesn't shift a few copies, nothing will. (Link from Publishers Lunch. For Richard and Judy think Oprah UK.)

On Saturday last, the Times did a profile of the woman who apparently draws up the reading list for our beloved R & J: her name is Amanda Ross. A nice enough lady, I'm sure, but I have the odd quibble with her.

In respect of The Righteous Men, Amanda says this: 'This book was the best thriller that I read, and thrillers really aren't my genre. I find it tough to choose thrillers.'

Well -- ahem -- actually, darling, we could have deduced that from the fact that you chose this one. I haven't read it myself, but I think it's fair to say that those who have read it regard it, for the most part, as second rate.

Mind you, right at the start of the Times profile, some of the really important factors in determining R & J's all-powerful list are made clear. Here is what Amanda Ross says about the process of making her massively sales-generating choices:
I don’t pretend that I know what definitely will make a bestseller. That’s not how I choose the books. My criteria, honestly, is: is this book going to entertain and engage people enough to generate 12 to 15 minutes of gripping television? The bottom line is: what’s the sofa chat?
Well that's honest enough for you. And no doubt the political columnist of the Guardian is a dab hand at the TV shows. Even if he doesn't look all that wonderful in a mini-skirt, which is another useful asset for a wannabe bestseller.

By the way, while I may not be too fussy about the subjunctive, I do have to admit that I prefer people who use a plural noun to use the plural form of the verb. Just one of my funny little quirks.


Maxine Clarke said...

I've read so much about that "Sam Bourne" novel being no good that I am not going to read it.
I have just finished reading Silence of the Grave by Arnald Iridudurson (spelling wrong sorry). I highly recommend it, it is a great book of the genre and you would approve as it is short.
I am sure he would not garner praise on the miniskirt/sofa ticket. Just a darn good read.

JodyTresidder said...

I have devoured every syllable you've written about the hilarious "Sam Bourne" affair and author Jonathan Freedland's odious bad writer's egotism.

This has finally genuinely depressed me. I'd almost prefer Jeffrey Archer getting a Nobel prize.

Anonymous said...

I so agree with you, Grumpy. I, too,wince when a plural noun takes a singular form of the verb. But Amanda Ross is not alone in seeming to think that "Criteria" is singular.

It is going the same way as "Media", now widely accepted as a sort of singular collective noun. Like herd, I suppose.

Anonymous said...

I find it disheartening that many of you are trashing Sam Bourne's novel, The Righteous Men. The book is well written, throughly researched and altogether thrilling. The majority of the world's best writers are journalists; they have a knack for understanding the world and writing in a clear, succinct prose. The Righteous Men is a must read.

Anonymous said...

I want to second "Anonymous"'s comments - I myself am very particular about what I will read in this genre, especially in regard to the quality of vocabulary and grammar (relative to what's average in this case). It is also very unusual for a Hasidic organization to cooperate in a work of fiction to which they and their weltenshaung are so central. The fact that Freedland was able to obtain such cooperation makes the story that much more credible.

This was a very good, if not excellent, effort for the genre. I hope that "maxine" will reconsider and give it a try!