Monday, April 18, 2005

700 pages of crap you can't even fit in a coat pocket

Nice article on pulp in The Guardian.

Few would argue that the genre - one which peaked in popularity during the 1950s contains much in the way of literary merit. Indeed, in their day, they were considered so low-brow that copies were sold mainly at news stands or from subway vending machines. Booker Prize winners they weren't.
OK, so it's a "nice article" in that I'm interested in pulp, and the article is about pulp. But what I find odd, right, is that whenever the subject of "literary value" crops up, someone has to mention the Booker prize. Please, can someone demonstrate to me how Booker Prize-winning books are better examples of the art of the novel than A Hell of a Woman, Pick Up, or Down There? It's scary, the amount of assumption (prejudice) that goes on in the literary world. The Line of Beauty must be great because it won the Booker. The Killer Inside Me must be shit because it was printed on cheap paper and flogged at newsstands, decades ago. No one is putting quite like that, but they might as well. To which all I can quote is this:
"For fuck's fucking sake."
The Restraint of Beasts, Magnus Mills, 1998 (Booker Prize-shortlisted)

(As a slightly irrelevant side issue, take a look at those last two covers linked to above. Doesn't it sum it up? Which image makes you want to open the book?)

Final word goes to pulp collector Peter Chapman (from the Guardian article):

"Back in the old days, these books were 120 pages and they had a beginning, middle and end. That was it. Who needs 700 pages of crap you can't even fit in a coat pocket?"
Amen to that.

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