Thursday, 27 August 2009

In Which Your Usually Laid Back Blogger Gets Irate

Today I was sitting waiting for my mammogram (wasn't that a song by the Velvet Underground?) and I picked up the Glasgow Herald. Well, if I wasn't already stressed out enough at the thought of having my breasts clamped in a vice, what I read just sent me over the edge. Here's Scottish writer James Kelman on "f****** detective fiction'. (The asterisks are the Herald's, not mine). He goes on to talk about how Scottish literature is sneered at by the Scottish literary establishment. Well, I'm sorry, Mr Kelman, but you've just done the very same sneering at crime fiction. Ya bampot. I threw the paper across the room and the way I felt afterwards, I would rather have had one of my boobs slammed in the fridge door than read anything by Kelman. In fact, make that both of them.

Presumably he won't be attending the Stirling Off The Page Book Festival, which starts on September 12th.

And in more book festival news, just in case anyone reading this is in New Zealand, or nipping over for the weekend, Liam McIlvanney will be appearing in Dunedin.

Closer to home, here's how to win tickets for crime fiction events at the Warwick literary festival.

The Skinny has a chat with Christopher Brookmyre about his new novel, PANDAEMONIUM.

Simon Pegg to play Burke and Hare - well, one of them, anyway.


  1. Excellent rant. What is it with lit crit/authors taking on crime fiction these days? Is it the fault of the Scandinavians for capturing the public's attention? and raising the profile of crime fiction?

    Thanks for teaching me the word "bampot." If I'm ever in Glasgow I'll be prepared. Do you think I would be able to work ned and bampot into one sentence?

    I'm sure Simon Pegg will be brilliant in the role. I even liked Run Fatboy Run.

    Thanks also (I think) for several graphic images that you have seared into my brain.

  2. Mack - it annoys me immensely. Actually, it annoys me whichever way round it is. People like what they like and no-one is better than anyone else. Calling a whole genre crap and, by the way, taking an obvious pot shot at specific authors, is just bad form as far as I'm concerned. Why not just say "It's just not to my taste" rather than acting like that.

    Since most (if not all) neds ARE bampots, you will be absolutely fine. Although you might find yourself the recipient of a Glasgow Kiss if you say that to their faces.

    I think Simon Pegg is a great choice.

    And I'm sorry - I should have warned that this was a post for ladies only :o)

  3. A ladies only post! Your rant is spot on and I am still stunned and left fuming by Mike Ripley's hatchet job on Johan Theorin's latest book.

  4. Donna - It annoys me as well particularly when there is crime fiction that is good as if not better than what passes for literary fiction.

    You do realize that guys don't get much past the word "boobs" don't you?

  5. Norm - sometimes you just have to let off steam, eh?!

    Mack - sometimes people seem to judge crime fiction on the Patricia Cornwells and James Pattersons - the best known 'popular' authors, just as genre fans judge literary fiction on the proponents of the worst navel gazing excesses. And there are great books in all genres.

    And surely not when 'fridge door' and 'slammed' are in the same sentence?!

  6. I hope you feel better after that very necessary rant. I was at a function a week or so ago and some self-appointed expert o all things tasteful was having a go at romance fiction and people who read it. Now I haven't read a romance novel since I was 14 and would probably rather gnaw off my own arm than pick one up now but I have never (I hope) given the impression that it's because the genre is unworthy. I simply don't like it (I am the least romantic person on the planet). I'd had a couple of drinks at this function so I leapt to the defence of the romance genre with arguments about good and bad writing being found everywhere and we should all celebrate the good wherever it is found and that it is utterly childish and inane to assume that an entire genre offers no literary or entertainment value to the world.

  7. Hey Donna,

    I've actually once used the terms 'it's more fun to', 'slam' and 'fridge door' in the same sentence when I reviewed a particularly boring horror flick (and remember I'm a guy), haha.

  8. Personally, Donna, I really don't think it's worth taking out on your boobs and luckily no one will force you into reading him and give you the choice of a fridge door. (But now that I've said that, I wouldn't put it passed you to come up with that one in a plot of your own for a torture scene, having read Helena HB...)

    The man is 63, uses the 'F' word like the worst of troopers, has a tartan plaid Booker. He's pigeon-holed into creating his own comments along these lines surely? A real, proper litfic author of that age would never use that word as liberally as our TV sleb chefs season with salt! (They always say a 'pinch' and add a handful.)

    And to use a quote I love from Jam & Jerusalem ('I wikipeed him') - yes, I did - Rabbi Julia Neuberger denounced his book as a 'disgrace' when he won the Booker. That prize was as long ago as 1994, if wikipee is to be believed, so I think that we have a possible case of 'controversy gets me back in the headlines' here?

    I suspect he's just another litfic author who is not selling too well at the mo and is jealous of the attainment of others, especially on the sales side.

    Nothing to get worked up about Donna, honestly. Save your elevation in BP for a moment that L'Oreal would suggest is worth it. (Which is unlikely to involve one of products either...)

    I hope the vice was not too uncomfortable and that you avoided bruising to aforementioned sensitive subject matter.

  9. Bernadette - well done you on the leaping to the defence thing! I'd love to have seen that.
    "I haven't read a romance novel since I was 14 and would probably rather gnaw off my own arm than pick one up now but I have never (I hope) given the impression that it's because the genre is unworthy. I simply don't like it" - exactly! Very well put.

    Jack - LOL. Now, that made my eyes water.

    CFR - I think the fact that his book was described as a disgrace (which, by the way, is the very FIRST thing to tempt me to read a book!), and the fact that he had to suffer the slings and arrows would make him less inclined to slag off another author or genre, but you might be right about the "let's cause a stramash and get back in the headlines" thing.

  10. well said, that wummin! What is the man on? Apart from anything else, the so-called Scottish Literary Establishment is just as capable at sneering at genre fiction as any other. He's obviously getting confused with the Scottish Media who home in on commercial success. Where he's right IMHO is when he talks about too much focus being on Burns.

  11. Michael - indeed the SLE is just as capable of a sneer :o) And I agree on Burns. Why is there so much focus on him? My favourite Scottish poet is the marvellous Victorian William McGonagall. How can you resist such works as The Tay Bridge Disaster:

    "Beautiful Railway Bridge of the Silv’ry Tay!
    Alas! I am very sorry to say
    That ninety lives have been taken away
    On the last Sabbath day of 1879,
    Which will be remember’d for a very long time."

    And from the last verse (it's a looooooooong poem):
    "Oh! ill-fated Bridge of the Silv’ry Tay,
    I must now conclude my lay
    By telling the world fearlessly without the least dismay,
    That your central girders would not have given way,
    At least many sensible men do say,
    Had they been supported on each side with buttresses,
    At least many sensible men confesses,
    For the stronger we our houses do build,
    The less chance we have of being killed."

  12. Right, Donna. You've just taken that too far!

  13. Mick - you mean you don't like McGonagall??? Jeez, you can go RIGHT off people you know :o)I have been remiss by the way - I meant to comment a few days ago on your blog post about the Aberdeen guy who couldn't be arsed going to work, so beat himself up. Priceless!

  14. Oh, I am laughing so much now that I can´t read the other comments. Poor Donna in the booby trap!
    I sincerely hope your weekend will be better - and remember, if people don´t appreciate fine crime fiction, they are really the ones you should feel sorry for (like people born without a sense of humour).

  15. Dorte - LOL - booby trap is right enough! And you are so right m'dear :o)