Friday, 11 December 2009

Rolling in filth!!!

The Guardian asks its readers what were the worst books of the decade, and book blog commenters fly from the wordwork like borer beetles on the wing to chew and feed on delicious edginess! Seven hundred comments and they're still frothing out like rampant spittle.

Compare with the various best of the year things they're running - forty or fifty posts per year, at that rate they'll get four or five hundred comments (and many of them are coming from the same people). I understand it's fun playing at being David Mitchell (not the obne that wrote the much derided Cloud Atlas, the other one) and squeezing out your hilariously scathing bon mots at the expense of easy targets (Ian, Zadie, the other Dave) but I'm still amazed and disappointed that so many supposed book lovers long for the chance to fart out these clouds of bummer gas. And Guardian readers to boot! I mean, I could believe it of the Mail, but come on guys, don't let the side down!

As some of you (note ironic use of plural - hi Steve!) may recall, I used to review books for The Zone (an online SF fanzine). One of the reasons I gave that up was the number of poor or average books you had to slog through and then spend time enumerating their problems. One of the reasons I started reviewing was as a way to focus my thoughts on what does and doesn't work in fiction to feed in to my own writing, and as time went by I realised that it was only the good books that had something to teach me.

Mulling over bad books is like mulling over bad relationships, dying a little more with every reminder. Bad books aren't like the unhappy families that Tolstoy tells us about. Bad books tend to bad in the same ways: wooden characters; murky, cacophonic prose; lumpy lurching plots; a poverty of ideas. They are, ultimately boring. By contrast, every great book is great in its own unique way. Every great book has it's own perspective, something exciting and new to show us (cue Love Boat theme). Every great book is a revelation and it astonishes and humbles me to realise the incredible variety and passion of human life and expression that's revealed by great fiction...

God, I can't believe I just typed all that. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Hudson, a fool and a hypcrite!

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