Wednesday, June 10, 2009

your hallucination is under new management

I recently mentioned poets being compared to other poets and how that sometimes irks. Of course it’s not confined to poets - also actors, artists and other writers are compared to their predecessors and contemporaries. I’m sure this bugs them, too. Still the publishing industry seems to think that, rather than originality, comparing writers to other writers is a good marketing strategy. Check out this advertisment for Elizabeth Kelly’s Apologize, Apologize! from the NYT.

*”Begs comparison with Daniel Wallace and JOHN IRVING.” (Caps theirs)
*”With the linguistic mastery of a Carol Shields or a JULIA GLASS, Elizabeth Kelly’s debut novel comes down hard and strikes the bell.”
*”Meet the Flanagans, a quasifunctional family that might give JONATHAN FRANZEN pause.”
*Dave Eggers fans should enjoy Canadian journalist Kelly’s rambunctious first novel.”
*”An imaginative and energetic triumph…Think of Dostoevsky on laughing gas.”

That's it. I have to say this really blew me away. What a crutch! Hardly a word about the writer herself or her book except in relation to other writers or other books.

Ok, so the real question now is if you want to read this. Because maybe you do.


Anonymous said...

'People who chose this work also enjoyed...' Perhaps there isn't really a critic but an Amazon-like avatar that uses input characteristics to compare to other works.

A recent book, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, had me thinking of your post on mash-ups of various genres. The review said that 855 of the work is the original text which sounds like fun.

lucas said...

I love the title "Apologize, Apologize!" and I don't know why.

SarahJane said...

Bob - you're right. It's like amazon recommendations.

Lucas - sadly enough, I think "Apologize Apologize" comes from james joyce.
"Pluck out his eyes, apologize. Apologize."
or something like that?

"So if you like james joyce (or maybe it's from a ts eliot poem?), you will love elizabeth kelly's book."

lucas said...

Oh, silly me, I remember now. Of course it's Joyce. It's from the opening pages of "Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man."

Well, I do like Joyce, so I must luuuuurve Kelly.

Anonymous said...

Actually, the title is based on a comic incident from the book, and has nothing to do with Joyce.

Better to be informed than to draw conclusions based on speculation.

SarahJane said...

I haven't read the book, and only surmised. It's probably a good book, just seems a weird way to try to convince people to read it. Or at least, it seems weird to use only this route - comparing the writer to other writers.

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