Writers and would-be authors such as myself are well aware that writing is a gift. Yes, you can certainly hone your craft, but the ability to form words and phrases into a coherant and captivating story is not everyone's forte. And so I look back on 2006 and its many adventures (and many pages written) with a fond farewell and look forward to the better things to come in 2007, hoping to add myself to the ranks of Published Author.
Which makes me view the following story aghast. Here is a book reviewer in Sweden who lambasted a book in his column. A book he hated. An author he hated more. A book...that had not been published. Er...
Here is the story:
Reviewer Slams Book That Was Never Written
Published: 15th December 2006 16:54 CET
A book reviewer on a Swedish newspaper has got himself into hot water for writing a review of a book that has not been written. To make matters worse, Kristian Lundberg claimed the book's plot was "predictable" and said the characterisations were one-dimensional.
Lundberg made the comments in Helsingborgs Daglad, in an article about recently published thrillers, reports Dagens Nyheter. Among those he reviewed were Britt-Marie Mattsson's novel 'Fruktans Makt' (The Power of Fear).
Unfortunately for Lundberg, while the book had been advertised in publisher Piratförlaget's autumn catalogue, Mattsson never actually got round to writing it.
The newspaper has made an "unreserved apology" to Mattsson. Lundberg's apology was more qualified. He told Svensk Bokhandel magazine that he had "got worked up in advance about Britt-Marie Mattsson because I detest her so very greatly. But let's hope the book is published so I get the chance to say it for real."
Mattsson has not yet made her views on the subject known. But Piratförlaget's spokesman Mattias Boström said it confirmed what they'd suspected about reviewers.
"We've known for a long time that reviewers skim-read books, but know we know what really happens," he told Dagens Nyheter. --James Savage
Wow. Well, we know that any reviewer worth their salt does not review from writers they personally dislike as that would make their review worthless. The book reviewers we know have much more intergrity than that (and you can see their opinions in the interview I did on this blog here under "Interview with 3 Book Reviewers"). Plus, they almost always review books that have already been written! Duh.
Then, of course, there are the jaded writers, those who have published so often and/or so successfully that they don't need editing; they don't need to listen to other people's opinions; their work is PERFECTION. Well, that ain't me. But writer Anthony Lane talks about it in his article for the December 18 issue of New Yorker magazine when he reviewed Thomas Harris' Hannibal Rising. Lane hates that Hannibal Lecter, that lovable cannibal/serial killer from Silence of the Lambs, gets backstory not worthy of him in Harris' newest book. "Were it the kind of reduction that Lecter, a fine cook, prepares in 'Hannibal' as a juniper-tinged sauce for his grilled tenderloin," says Lane, "it would slip down nicely. But all we get is influences, beginning with the loss of home and family, plus the implication that these were the making, or the warping, of Hannibal Lecter. If that were logically the case, then anyone who witnessed or endured savagery in the Second World War would be doomed to revisit its terrors on the peacetime world. Half of Europe even now, would be dining off the other half. Hitherto, the champions of Lecter have ascribed to him a core of monstrosity, no more malleable than a diamond, and native to him alone; if so, it is brushed aside and squandered by the uncovering of his past. With 'Hannibal Rising,' we watch the legend sink.
"Why did Harris pursue this line of inquiry? He has written one great Lecter book, 'The Silence of the Lambs,' and two lesser ones, so why produce a fourth that is not merely the weakest but that makes you wonder if the others were so gripping after all?"
Lane goes on to decry George V. Higgins and John le Carre for much the same "crime:" "At some point, each man started to hear that he was so much more than the master of a genre (as if that were an ignoble thing to be), and responded to such flattery by expanding his fiction beyond its confines, not realizing that what he felt as a restriction was in fact its natural shape. That is how a writer loses thrust and form..." Well, Lane makes a good point here. When we writers begin to think we are the gift rather than using the gift, we can start to get into trouble.
I'm hoping for the chance to make a proper fool of myself out there next year.