Tuesday, June 03, 2008

More BEA

How to Get Back Readers?

Laura Miller reports on Book Expo America's theme of depression about the state of reading in America. I'm not sure how applicable this is to Canadians, but there's I'd be pretending if I said this country supports its homegrown authors. So much of CanLit is yawn-inducing shit, but some must be worth reading. The Canadian press, however, doesn't do enough to lift Canadian writers above their non-Canadian peers. Sure, when the Giller is announced or a Canadian is long- or short-listed for the Booker, we hear about them, but that's not enough.

Miller isolates one segment of the U.S. publishing world who weren't considering a prescription for an anti-depressant:

In general, "juvenile" publishers and authors did seem more upbeat. Sherman Alexie, who has written several adult titles and last year won the National Book Award for his first Y.A. (young adult) novel, "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian," is a case in point. "No one in Y.A. is talking about that," he said when asked about the dire forecasts on the future of reading. "They're talking about how the genre is booming. Maybe writers for adults can learn something there: write more like the Y.A. writers." What did Y.A. fiction offer? Stronger stories and less ornate prose? That and more, Alexie concurred. "The audience doesn't tolerate bullshit," he added.

And perhaps that's it: Writing good novels. That's what Alexie is saying, which isn't a new idea. Write well. Simple idea, much harder to execute.


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