Monday, May 12, 2014

Hey NYTBR, Tear Down This Wall!

Ugh, I've bitched about it before but this week's By The Book column brings yet another reminder that the folks running it are decidedly out of step.

This week Gillian Flynn's on the block. I'm a big fan of hers for tons of reasons. I don't know her personally, but I've seen her speak and she's a delightful combination of giggly/creepy that feels like looking in the mirror.

Of course I was not surprised that when confronted with the two super-odious questions that the NYT folks insist on  including in the interview week after week, Gillian gave just-right answers.

Odious Question #1:
Any literary guilty pleasures?

Odious Question #2:
What books are you embarrassed not to have read yet?

Regarding the first question, the only appropriate response - at least, barring obscenities - is NO. Because if something contains words and is enjoyed by you, you should NEVER feel guilty. I don't care if its a Penthouse letter or a dime novel or a religious tract or one of my own novels - if you are enjoying what you read, you are practicing glorious literacy and you have NOTHING to be ashamed about. F#%K those who would have you believe that one form or genre is superior to another. There is superior writing (though even there you and I may politely disagree about what makes one piece better than another) but none of us on God's green earth gets to decide what type of writing is worthy of being read.

Regarding the second question - well, you can imagine what I have to say about that. I'll try to control my language and direct you, instead, to the delightful answers Gillian gave.

And to the anonymous constructor of the column, I have to ask...who made you feel so small that you have to go around constructing artificial scales by which to judge what you read? It makes me sad. I wish I could invite you to my house, where writers of all kinds of things often gather without shame, just to enjoy the community of people who love to read and write.


The Book Sage said...

The great thing about the ereaders, even though I'm exclusively a print book guy, is that more people than ever are reading. And I have no doubt that Amazon's discounted books have led people to read more too. I feel the same way about audiobooks. I don't listen to them, but look at all the people who are getting the benefit of books who would otherwise, in many cases, never read anything. It's all good.

Pat Coffey said...

Sophie, I agree with you. Anything you read is with reading. The back of a cereal box can teach a savvy writer a lesson. I believe interviewers don't spend enough time developing their questions.

Laura Bendoly said...

Hi Sophie. I've just bought one of your hysterical sounding crime novels, Bad Day for Sorry. I hope very much to get a good sense of how to merge humor and murder. I'm mid-way through a suspenseful missing person heist, myself, right now. First time I've tried crime. And . . . I"m stuck!! Hoping after I read some of your pages I'll get inspired. Like you, I'm a real Gillian fan. I tore through all her books in about six weeks. Hope I can find you/meet you at a reading or conference soon. I live in Columbus, Ohio. Best, Laura