Wednesday, December 16, 2009

"The Not-Quite Novel"

I have an opinion piece about the attempts to create literary-commercial hybrids in this country in the new issue of Maisonneuve.

A taste:

Here's what a literary hullabaloo looks like these days: In its July/August issue, Quill & Quire magazine (full disclosure: I work there) ran a feature review of Lori Lansen’s The Wife’s Tale by author and Q&Q contributing editor James Grainger (full disclosure: he’s a friend). The review was mostly positive, praising Lansen’s “knack for satisfactorily ending one scene while creating anticipation for the next” as well as the novel’s “irresistible narrative thrust and character arc.” Grainger did find fault with the characterization, but concluded that, given the kind of book it is—i.e., mainstream and commercial—and given the intended audience, it wasn’t a big deal, and maybe beside the point.

In short, it was a review most authors would kill for.

However, Grainger made two errors. The first was getting some incidental facts wrong about the film rights to Lansen’s previous novel, a mistake duly noted and corrected when the review went online. The other blunder was a little trickier: by grouping the novel with the “big-hearted and story-driven” tales that tend to be favourites of book clubs, Grainger committed the Sin of Distinction, one that cannot be washed away by subsequent praise.

Read the whole thing.

In the print issue, the piece is accompanied by a caricature of me that looks like a 14-yr-old Caillou. Such are the wages of critical sin.

1 comment:

lucky said...

Excellent!