Thursday, July 14, 2005

What's the matter with me? It doesn't seem as if it's been three days since I last posted. I'll blame it on the neighborhood swimming pool. Five to six o'clock, a time when I'm often pulling together an entry, finds me doing laps and then sitting with the hood's mothers. I'm not a mother myself, but I enjoy exchanging tips about the best brand of taco shells and I raise my eyebrows at their stories about the "best values" that can be had at New England casinos. Today as I left they were a mellow group, nursing their vodka lemonades.

I was stunned to read a Publisher's Weekly headline that Elizabeth Kostova's The Historian was a "sleeper" that has become this summer's "blockbuster." Sara Nelson's really off her rocker this time. Sleeper indeed! Little Brown has spent millions on this book, and a bundle promoting it to booksellers in the pages of Publishers Weekly! The hype has been nauseating--newspapers, magazines, television, radio.

All I can think about is how the bundle LB has spent on publicity for The Historian could have been used to publish and promote dozens of other novels of extraordinary quality. But no, put all the bucks on one book and see if it turns out to be another Da Vinci's Code. It's so disheartening for the state of literature in the U.S. I weep.

Now, that said, I'm more than willing to give The Historian the nod. I haven't read it, but I'd be willing to go so far as to say I'm sure it's a worthy book, perhaps even a brilliant book. But where are we going funding only the books that the publishers decide should be the blockbusters?


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