Together in Spirit

An online reading group ('TIS a reading group!) to bring together friends, and friends of friends, who aren't able to be in a conventional reading group due to constraints of time or geography.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Yes but no but

Kirsty - YES - great point about murder mysteries or transfer to film/book generally: the plot-dependent versus character-driven is a really useful distinction. Will try to remember that when I'm next agonising about whether to give re-tread a go. And I hadn't realised it until now, but you're absolutely right about the poignancy of All Quiet on the Western Front, and the soldiers' lack of hope for the war ending. No wonder I found the ending merciful (in the teeth of some opposition, if I remember rightly). Am intrigued - you must tell me which bit of I don't know how she does it made you cry. (For anyone who doesn't know, my sister-in-law likes her books pretty bleak.)

But NO - I can't let you describe I don't know how she does it as chick-lit. OK, it's packaged like that and the style is akin, but I think it's a different league. I think it was Helen Fielding (of Bridget Jones fame - well-practised at being underestimated) who advised Allison Pearson that the way to write a huge bestseller and not be hated by everyone was to pretend that it just kind of wrote itself and really wasn't difficult and it's such a surprise it sold so well. Yeah, right. That's why we're all turning out books like I don't know, which make Kirsty cry, and men like John read it despite the lurid pink cover, and me press it on everyone I can. It summarises why I don't work full time for cash while also bringing up my children, for instance.

That said, being readable IS rather a danger, isn't it? Makes people think you're lightweight. Have just finished Claire Tomalin's biography: Samuel Pepys - The Unequalled Self. Thanks, Valerie. Interesting and moving, but rather hard work. Especially since he has to give us ALL the details of every servant he gropes in a long and busy ("boisterous") life. Glad to have read it, but also glad to be going back to things that I can read more lightly.