Demand Nothing but the Best

I found this article, (it's a bit of an oldie) on Sadie Jones, author of the bestseller The Outcast, rather interesting:

"She is every publisher's dream – good-looking, husky-toned and, what's more, she can actually write. Her debut bridges the tricky gap between literary and commercial writing: shortlisted for the Orange Prize, picked as a Richard & Judy Summer Read (which sent it to number one in the book charts), and there was even talk - which eventually came to nothing - of a Booker Prize longlisting. "The Richard & Judy/Booker Venn diagram crossover – no, I don't think they've ever done that," she says wryly today."

As you may have guessed, I'm not an enormous fan of the divide (no, make that abyss) between what's perceived to be "academic" type literature (i.e. cryptic at best) and what's perceived to be "trash" (i.e. anything found on your way out of Tesco). So I like that Ms. Jones, as a successful writer, is willing to make a wry comment or two about the perceived disparity between Booker-worthy literature and Richard & Judy-selected books.

What worries me, though, is The Outcast itself, which I read some months ago (one of the perks of being attached to someone in the book industry is the acquisition of proofs) without judgment. I knew nothing about Jones, and I knew nothing about how the public would react to her book. All I knew was that I read the book fast, and obsessively, and that I didn't like the writing very much, but I thought she could tell a damn compelling story. It's not that the writing was poor; it was perfectly adequete, even lovely at times. But it lacked the sparkle of well-used language, and I fret that, though we're making steps towards the "The Richard & Judy/Booker Venn diagram crossover" what's got lost in the meantime is appreciation of craft, and that what we forget to value is an exceptional ability with words, because, unlike an exceptional ability with characters, such an ability cannot stand alone.


On a more political note, we can hardly find this surprising, though it's refreshing to see it in print:

"In 17 countries, the most common view was that US relations with the rest of the world would improve under Mr Obama."