Re: RARA-AVIS: Genre Fiction Will Die!

From: foxbrick (
Date: 30 Jun 2008

--- In, "jacquesdebierue"
<jacquesdebierue@...> wrote:
> --- In, "foxbrick" <foxbrick@> wrote:
> > Mario, not only that (and that's true of much simpler novels, as
> > well, including the likes of, say, Jackie Susann's YARGO or, I
> > suspect, Alice Sebold's THE LOVELY BONES), but also you're
> > the mistake of confusing official "bestsellers" with books that
> > customers, as opposed to bookstore chains and distributors, are
> > actually buying.
> Yes, I was referring at the bestseller lists that the NY Times
> publishes, for example.

Sadly, so am I.

> >
> > And then there's the "weighting" that the compilers of such
> > make so as to distort the list in favor of "worthier" books.
> >
> > It's a remakably corrupt process, to no compellingly good end.
> >
> > And, Nathan, some people might well want complex or novel
> > novels...but not on a beach or in an airplane.
> How do they weight the list in favor of "worthier" books? Aren't
> lists based on reported sales by a sampling of bookstores?

The key word being "reported." Both the reporting stores and the lists' assemblers tend to discount books they don't approve of, notably paperback romances, and tend to inflate the comparitive sales of books they wish to promote. Not always more sophisticated work, either. Though often work the publishers have paid well for.

> As to complexity, even Conrad, a popular writer in his day, seems
> complex for many contemporary readers. I've lent people Conrad
> and have them complain that the stuff was too hard. And Conrad is
> nowhere nearly as hard as Gaddis or Faulkner in full form. Conrad's
> sentences are pretty straightforward, though the psychology of his
> characters is complex.

Well, there's Conrad and there's Conrad, too, although it's not as profound as the difference between, say, Melville's South Seas novels and his later work.

Ross Macdonald wasn't as popular as Mickey Spillane, but was popular...and some people apparently complain of his dull slowness these days...and I suspect similar poeple back when could and did make the same complaint.

Todd Mason

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