"Immersion in the life of the world, a willingness to be inhabited by and to speak for others, including those beyond the realm of the human, these are the practices not just of the bodhisattva but of the writer." --Jane Hirshfield

Friday, January 12, 2007

Book Club Junkie

Quality Paperback Book Club has the early softcover of Special Topics in Calamity Physics, if you’re one of those people who finds hardcovers to be just not as hand-friendly as paperbacks. Or shoulder-friendly, if you’re carrying them in your purse or pack, the way I used to when I worked in NYC. They have the hardcover of The Emperor’s Children, although the club specializes in paperbacks. I’ve belonged to them off and on since I was a kid, before the internet.

Both of these books are getting criticism based on their author or subjects being young, attractive and rich. It’s possible that people are reading them for that reason, but I don’t know why that should be a surprise. People read books about the middle class, the upper class, the destitute and marginalized, drug addicts, the homeless, about marriage, divorce, serial killers, the mob, the various ways the world might end, books by authors who are from and/or write about other cultures. There are elderly middle-class men who swear by John Updike, and young white women who swoon for Toni Morrison. Everyone either wants to read about himself, or doesn’t. Why do publishers salivate over young, attractive authors (and turn them into young, attractive, rich authors)? Opinions vary: Sarah Weinman. Last Sunday's fashion piece, It's Like Nothing, Really, in the New York Times didn't help. (Thanks to Cheryl for that link.)

Why a book club junkie age 11? The neighborhood we lived in didn’t have bookstores, just one stationery store that carried Kurt Vonnegut paperbacks. (I’m rereading Welcome to the Monkey House now.)

Two of my favorite people:

Read an excerpt from A Man Without a Country.


Cheryl said...

Point taken. Readers come in all income brackets and ethnicities. As a writer living in the desert southwest, however, it's endlessly discouraging to witness the parade of east coast writers who are published and published and published as if nobody who lives west of the Mississippi river can put two sentences together that would get the same amount of attention. Do east coast publishers think we're all cowgirls with nothing interesting to say? I have wondered over this coastal prejudice all of my writing life. To try and counteract it, I buy as many books by west coast authors as I can possibly afford. Hasn't seemed to make even a dent.

Zen of Writing said...

Not to mention the landlocked writers who flock to NY because they feel it's the only way to get noticed.

Lisa Jean said...

I write with a very strong midwestern/country flair. That is what I know and live. I couldn't do anything else. We'll have to see if there is a market for it.

Nice blog!