Philobiblon: Happy 2006!

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy 2006!

Now here's some depressing news ...

Two Booker novels, submitted anonymously and unidentified to publishers and agents, got almost universal rejections. As someone who refers to JK Rowling getting six rejections just a little too often, I'm not surprised.

Then, if you're suffering from New Year-itis you mightn't want to read this one: if you're British you probably noticed that story about the single mother of five who died by "falling out of the loft while getting her children's presents". You have to wonder why that story was allowed to run in that form (surely an off-the-record word from a policeman would have stopped it ... then again perhaps not, given the desperation for a story), because it looks like it is much darker - a case of suicide.

Then, one of my predictions for 2006 - we'll see a lot more attacks from the "old" media on the "new", like this:

There's something frankly creepy about the explosion we now call the Blogosphere -- the big-bang "electroniverse," where recently wired squatters set up new camps each day. As I write, the number of "blogs" (Web logs) and "bloggers" (those who blog) is estimated in the tens of millions worldwide.
Although I've been a blog fan since the beginning, and have written favorably about the value added to journalism and public knowledge thanks to the new "citizen journalist," I'm also wary of power untempered by restraint and accountability.
Say what you will about the so-called mainstream media, but no industry agonizes more about how to improve its product, police its own members and better serve its communities. Newspapers are filled with carpal-tunneled wretches, overworked and underpaid, who suffer near-pathological allegiance to getting it right.

Well except in sentimental, and unfactual, Christmas stories ...


Anonymous rose said...

I guess they haven't heard the old adage, "nature abhorrs a vacuum."

1/01/2006 11:02:00 pm  
Blogger Ragnell said...

That thing on the books is insane. I always figured stories like that for urban legends.

1/02/2006 12:20:00 am  
Anonymous Chameleon said...

A very thought-provoking compilation, a real poke in the eye to the self-righteous champions of "near pathological allegiance to getting it right". I have long since given up on fiction except by authors I can rely on to produce excellent writing, such as Margaret Atwood or Pat Barker. If you watch the BBC these days (we don't have other English-language channels to compete over here) you are forced to gorge on a non-stop diet of celebrities (I pride myself on not knowing who most of them are). To take just two examples, the University Challenge specials (even the series of the Professionals my team appeared the opposition were mostly journalists) or even the one-off revival of the Generation Game (OK, I admit, I have a soft spot for Graham Norton). "Real" people are not even allowed on to the dismal "reality" shows (which I avoid like the plague). Or on Hogmanay, the Best Television Moments, which turned out to be yet another cheap schedule-filler meaningless awards show. The media landscape is now dominated by members of a small clique and therefore it comes as no surprise that rejection letters are sent out to "unknowns", the publishing industry is more risk-averse than ever before. Frankly, I would far rather read a blog of excellent quality such as Philobiblion than waste valuable brain space on a novel even by Stephen Fry or some piffle by Jeremy Clarkson (in parentheses, I also find it sad how when the shelves of bookshops are not stocked to overflowing with the latest offerings by some vacuous non-entities and intellectual lightweights such as TV presenters the only other authors who seem to make it into print are journalists/columnists). The shred of comfort I take from Kathleen Parker's attack on bloggers is that the mainstream media must feel under threat (or hard-pressed for more substantial news) for such vitriol to make up column inches (note that even she is forced to back down by admitting that academics also blog). There may be a few vain, self-obsessed bloggers out there, but they pale into insignificance by comparison with the parade of idiots we are encouraged to salivate over, to worship on the small screen. The oublishing industry truly merits that appellation, churning out vapid fodder for mass consumption whilst squeezing out originality, so that more challenging fare gathers dust on the shelf of oblivion. Give me a decent blog any day! More to the point, someone should set up a site to host/showcase new authors who have been rejected by publishers and agents. Let the public decide, as the faceless public is more discerning than these condescending self-appointed arbiters of taste and judgement are capable of either grasping or admitting.

1/02/2006 09:46:00 am  
Anonymous Chameleon said...

P.S. Whilst I am in gripe mode, I have to say thanks for the link to the Indie, as supplies of my newspaper of choice have been somewhat erratic to Waffleland at the moment - instead of the usual once a week no-show rate, the average number of days in the last fortnight when the (rip-off priced) Independent has actually been available has dropped to a truly pathetic twice - twice in a fortnight! I know there have been holidays, but this really is ridiculous!

1/02/2006 10:14:00 am  

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