Monday, November 20, 2006

Shite books

Why are there so many dull books out there? I walk into a bookshop and the dullness engulfs me within seconds. Open up the book review pages of a broadsheet: ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ. Walk into a library... you know it.

Sounds like I'm a typical bibliophobe here, but I'm not. Believe me, I love books. But it took the right kind of book for me to first get interested. You know what that was, for me? Worzel Gummidge novels, when I was about 9. I'm not tempted to open one now (aged 9+), but back then the "otherness" of this world where scarecrows walk was just compelling. No shit! Later on it was Stephen King, then on to all kinds such as Thomas Hardy and Kingsley Amis and I don't know what else. All of these guys either had a unique take on the world and knew how to put it across in an utterly compelling way. Preferably they also knew how to put FUN on the page.

Don't get me wrong, I am no advocate of "feelgood" novels. (Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.) However, a writer should never neglect to put in a joke funny, should one crop up. Cut out the jokes and you're cutting out half the entertainment. Which brings me back to where I started. Books are entertainment, and should be accepted as such. That means they are right there alongside CDs, DVDs, vid games, and wank mags.

When I walk into a record/DVD shop, I know I can spend hours in there. The whole atmosphere of the place tells me that I'm going to have a good time looking for cool stuff. When I walk into a high street bookshop or a library, I know I'm going to have a fucking dull time... finding cool stuff. Either there is just not enough cool stuff to make it worth my while (high street bookshop) or the cool stuff is hidden away in this warehouse of sleep (library).

Hey, I didn't start this post with the intention of knocking bookshops and libraries. I wanted to slag off the bulk of authors out there, and the mainstream publishers who perpetuate this culture of mediocrity, zero risk-taking, and literary snobbery. Brilliant books are out there. I've read them. They are dark and funny and eye-opening and gut-wrenching and utterly compelling, and they take you somewhere you never knew you wanted to go. And books are cool. For fuck's sake, books can be hip, man. And I don't mean hip like some Hoxton he-slag with a two turntables and a neo-mullet. I mean cool as in this is what you want to do, kids. So do it.

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