". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Elizabeth Sifton Speaks Re Publishing Industry Woes

In The Nation. Not that any of what she writes is unknown or news around here. Duh.

I have just a bit of a different tilt upon her analysis. It is the sameness, the lack of nurturing of new writers, that will ultimately kill the publishing biz in any form that we have known it all our lives and the lives of our grandmothers too.

Example: The New Fiction shelves at my most commonly visited NYPL branch have fewer and fewer books on them, due to the economic catastrophe that has engulfed every aspect of our lives. However, even so, and previously, there were fewer and fewer books on those shelves that sparked even an iota of interest in this reader desperate for a novel.

She'd read a few chick lits -- even before they were called that and became a forumlaic marketing genre -- and thus had no reason to ever read another one.

Historical novels mostly aren't, but rather literary experiments in consciousness, of which reading a few leaves the reader enthusiastic about Scott and Dumas, Bradshaw and (some) Cornwell with no need for more. (Thank goodness for the novelists who have been coming with historical fiction out of the post-colonial realms, like Marlon James, Vikram Chandra and Amitav Ghosh.)

Then, there are all the novels that would never have been written if someone else hadn't written them. A novel about Daphne du Maurier AND a novel about Rebecca -- Her Own Story are on the shelves. By count, no less than 12 novels ABOUT Jane Austen, the members of her family or about the characters she created in her novels, at any one time sitting on those shelves! Not to mention sf/f and novels ABOUT Jane Austen and / or her characters -- wtf? And that isn't all of the novels about Jane Austen and her family and her characters by any means. The others presumably were checked out. Not to mention Shakespeare and HIS family and even other writers from his period as characters. Stop this, RIGHT NOW!

Then the wereworld detectives -- hundreds of authors are writing those it seems, and they turn out at least 4 - 5 titles a year. Gack.

Thousands of time travel romances to the past of Scotland. Oh, Diane Gabaldon, what hast thou wrought! It's not your fault, and this reader isn't blaming you. But this reader DOES blame the publishers.

You could say I'm complaining that publishers are forcing me to work harder than I like to find a novel that I want to read.


K. said...

Have you read Josh Marshall's Yellow Jack? It's an excellent first novel set in New Orleans during the Yellow Fever epidemic of the late 1840's. The protagonist is based on the first portrait photographer in the United States. T. and I both enjoyed it immensely.

Foxessa said...

Yes, I have read it.

Love, C.