enough already

I’ve decided to give up reading the dozen or so blogs that (1) pride themselves on their literary acumen and taste; and (2) take it upon themselves to move beyond flogging others who do not live up to their standards to trying to get them booted off the web. This includes Mark’s The Elegant Variation (he’s the one that pushed me past the point of no return with his Dump the Book Babes petition; more below), Sam at Golden Rule Jones, Daniel of The Reading Experience, and a host of others. I’m so pissed that I’m not even going to include links to their blogs, so if you want to read their side of this, you’ll have to go find them.

here’s the thing. There’s a column at Poynter Online (news for the journalism community) called Book Babes, written by two women. It’s supposed to be, as I understand it, about the publishing industry, for its insiders. But TEV decided that they weren’t doing a good enough job as so he started a petition to have the column handed over to somebody else. Who? He doesn’t say, but he wants somebody more literary. More in tune with his view of literary, at any rate.

Let me be clear: I don’t particularly like the Book Babes column, and I don’t think they helped matters with the column in which they responded to the petition (nor did Mark with his response to that column). In this back and forth, a lot of very complex issues got jumbled together, things to do with gatekeeping (and that is the issue here, no matter what the LitCrit Police would like to claim); elitism (which I admit, pushes all my buttons; and yes, I have a Princeton PhD — that’s precisely where I learned to hate the pompous academic oriented literature types); censorship; reading as a cultural experience; definitions of good and bad in storytelling; and the nature of the publishing industry.

I never have read the Book Babes and I won’t be starting. It’s not my claim that they deserve a huge readership, just that they don’t deserve to be dumped on by the self-annointed LitCrit Police, who I won’t be reading anymore. However, if and when one of them has a novel come out, I’ll read that. And you’ll hear about it here.

Postscript: someone who wishes to remain nameless sent to a link to this article (“It’s a Little Too Cozy in the Blogosphere”) by Jennifer Howard (dated November 16 2003 at washingtonpost.com). Note this memorable paragraph:

What began as the ultimate outsider activity — a way to break the newspaper and TV stranglehold on the gathering and dissemination of information — is turning into the same insider’s game played by the old establishment media the bloggerati love to critique. The more blogs you read and the more often you read them, the more obvious it is: They’ve fallen in love with themselves, each other and the beauty of what they’re creating. The cult of media celebrity hasn’t been broken by the Internet’s democratic tendencies; it’s just found new enabling technology.

Jennifer Howard has a website; there is also a discussion of her Washington Post article on blogging,
here
. And yes, I picked up on this late, but then I don’t usually read the Washington Post.

stupid plot tricks

Teresa Nielsen Hayden of Viable Paradise has a darn good collection of plot hints and work-arounds which is also quite amusing. It’s geared primarily for the sci-fi/fantasy writer, but is useful for anybody. For example, under the heading If I am Ever the Hero…. there’s this bit of wisdom:

5. When the Evil Overlord is hanging on the cliff by his fingers, I will not try to help him up. If time and means are available, I’ll kill him then and there.

Which I used, almost literally but quite unaware of this particular formulation of the rule, in Into the Wilderness. If you can call Billy Kirby an Evil Overlord, of course. And another one:

11. I will never assume that an enemy is dead unless the remains are available for examination, and will keep in mind the possibility of cloning technology or resurrection magic.

Which is a relevant to most historical fiction, as well (although without the cloning and magic, for the most part). It’s certainly worth puttering around Teresa’s many pages of suggestions. They sparked some ideas for me, and I also laughed a lot, particularly at the helpful hints for evil overloads, like this one: 10. I will not interrogate my enemies in the inner sanctum — a small hotel well outside my borders will work just as well.