2/14/2008

Devices from the future, inaccurate journalism and the story so far


I got a batch of mail sent to me from Scotland in a box, including a thumb-sized keycode device that generates a different code every sixty seconds that I need in order to be able to access one of my online bank accounts. It did inspire some 'futuristic if this was 1985' thoughts.

I blogged recently about the author Joan Brady, who purportedly claimed she was forced to give up writing 'serious' fiction by ill health and write a genre novel instead. I first came across this in an article on the matter by Mark Lawson, a British arts critic, published in the Guardian (Populist Prejudice). This was itself based on an interview with Brady taken from The Times. It turns out that this is, according to Brady herself in a follow-up interview, utter bollocks:

'Now the poor dope - or so the story went - was only capable of pulp fiction. The Times ran with the headline "Fumes made me go lowbrow, says writer". It even juxtaposed two extracts - one from Theory of War, the other ostensibly the opening paragraph of Bleedout (it is actually from later in the book) under the headline "Dumbing down" - as if to suggest the fumes had made Brady a literary thickie.
"The voice is exactly the same as in Theory of War," she counters crossly. "I haven't dumbed down. I never said it. That's the pure invention of the Times. They have decided that this effete literary woman has become so stupid that she can no longer write boring literary fiction and writes poorly selling thrillers instead. My mental faculties haven't deteriorated. And anyway, what an insult it would be to thriller writers to suggest that you need to be stupid to write them. It seems to me so irritating that you would denigrate a remarkable genre where much of the best writing is done. I'm a great admirer of writers like John Grisham and Scott Turow."'

It's at moments like these one comes to the conclusion The Times is no longer quite the force for accurate journalism it might once have been. That would be the polite conclusion.

On the new book - work on the actual manuscript has halted while I plot out the details of the last forty thousand words (of an expected total of one hundred and thirty thousand). I already knew roughly what was going to happen, but a couple of paragraphs of loose outline don't necessarily translate directly into juicy prose. Which means, as such things do, more detailed outlining: about three thousand words of it so far.
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