Monday, February 18, 2008

The Literary Game

Is that the right word… literary? I’m not at all sure it applies to me, really. I fled academia years ago, whimpering softly to myself. Especially after the one Mod Lit class that I was forced to take… well, not forced, exactly. It just fitted in with my schedule, and I thought maybe I ought to be a little more conversant with the Giants of English Lit who had published something after 1940?

Well, it turned out to be a bad move, and I never made that mistake again. If it’s in the approved canon and published after the Depression then it’s probably a tedious and politically correct wank-fest, passing laborious to read, and generally about as much fun as do-it-yourself root canal surgery. Life is just too short, and I am an equal opportunity fugitive anyway. I’ll run just as fast from “The DaVinci Code” as I will from “The Corrections”. Oprah’s Book Club be damned… unless she picks one of my books, in which case I will cheerfully play along. (Scribbling notes to myself… Oprah Book Club… is there someone I have to sleep with, or something? Will they accept decorating advice or home-baked cookies, in lieu?)

Just don’t pop off the name of the literary wonderkind-du-jour in front of me, and expect any response but a blank expression, and the question. “Umm… who is that?” Look, I read all of Raymond Chandler, once. Surely that counts for something.

So… I am not literary. I tell stories. I tell stories about people, and interesting times, with a bit of vivid color and a lot of historical research, and I try to explain about how things were, and how they happened the way they did, and how it all felt to the people who had to cope with the resulting messy situation. If I identify with any literary heroine, I’m afraid it would be Flora Post, who hated team sports and untidiness.

(a variant of this essay previously posted at The Daily Brief some months ago. Look, it's the done thing to recycle.)

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