Monday, February 28, 2005

"Pull your socks up, Scotland"

Take a look at this from the Scotsman:

Jenny Brown, a former director of the Edinburgh International Book Festival [and now a literary agent], said: "In an age where readers are looking for feel-good novels, Scotland excels at feel-bad books."

She said the black comedy of contemporary Scottish novels - when even sex was "dark, perverted" - could be one reason they don't get made into films. "We would probably do well to cultivate other novelists with voices who are putting forward an alternative picture."

Now, a few questions (from a (half-Scottish) Englishman):
  1. What is art?
  2. What is writing?
  3. Is it a means of expression?
  4. Or is it a means of entertainment?
  5. Is Ms Brown encouraging her clients to write to market?
  6. (And by the same token, would she be asking Scotland's literary grass roots to write Star Wars fan fiction if that's what the public wants?)
  7. Does Ms Brown really, really believe "readers are looking for feel-good novels"?
  8. Does she wonder if her clients are seeing their agent in a new light, this morning?
  9. Why do more Scottish books need to be made into films (other than to get a bit more money in their pockets)?
  10. Oh.. is it because SHE would get a bit more money in HER pocket?
  11. Does she realise that HARDLY ANY novels actually get made into GOOD movies?
  12. And even if all film adaptations were great, how does that help Scottish literature?
  13. Consider this scenario:
    Ms Brown sits down and reads a few Alexander McCall Smith books.
    Ms Brown notices that they have a "feel-good" (*aargh*) aspect to them.

    Ms Brown notes that AM Smith is a Scot (ignoring the fact that he comes from a priveleged background and has spent a lot of time immersed in a totally foreign culture).
    Ms Brown sees the sales figures.
    Ms Brown comes to conclusion.
    Close?
  14. Has Ms Brown been drinking?
  15. Has Ms Brown not been drinking? (ie: How much does she really know about Scotland? Even I've been in a few Scots pubs and I didn't notice much "feel-good" knocking around. A fair bit of "black comedy" though, if that's how you want to put it.)
  16. Scottish Culture or Scottish money. Which phrase means most to Ms Brown?
  17. "Scotland excels at feel-bad books". Er, but I thought excelling at something was a good thing?
  18. Did I miss something?
  19. If TRAINSPOTTING isn't about feeling good, what the fuck is?
They already have Allan Guthrie. How much more sunshine can Scotland take?

8 comments:

Jim Winter said...

One thing you'll never see:

"It's the feel good movie of the year, based on a novel by Ray Banks."

Wait. Doesn't Ray live in England?

Well, you'll never see that in a movie trailer anyway.

Charlie Williams said...

Ray can speak for himself I guess, but his noir sensibilities seem to me perfectly in keeping with Scottish literature. But yes, TBB is set in Manchester, England (which, as a city, ranks pretty high in the feelbad stakes).

Jenny D said...

That is ridiculous!

Has she ever read any of the great 19th-century Scottish fiction--Hogg's Confessions of a Justified Sinner, Stevenson's Jekyll & Hyde (both must-reads for noir writers)?

Nothing makes me feel more chipper than a nice dark noir novel with lots of sex & drugs & grotesque violence...

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