Sunday, October 08, 2006

Crime writers are denied prizes . . .

. . . by literary snobs, according to Ian Rankin, last year in the Independent.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rankin writes so badly he deserves a lit prize. John Banville has just published a novel that he wants to be called a crime novel because he thinks it lets him off the hook, ie, it's a joke, I'm showing you I can write anything (and still get away with writing meaningless rubbish). In the same way, Greene called his novels 'entertainments'. He desperately wanted the critics to take them seriously but, if not, I wasn't actually trying, chaps, don't you get the joke?

October 09, 2006  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Banville even published his crime novel under a different name, which might indicate something about how he wants to protect the Banville "brand" -- not sully it with a crime novel, and all. Michael Dibdin likes the book:
, and he notes other writers who have hidden behind new names when they go slumming in the world of the crime novel.

I like Dibdin's novels, but the review is jokey and cutesy and full of lines about the "hazardous shallows and rapids of Genre Gulch." Of course, that is probably meant to reflect the unease and nervousness "serious" authors feel when they put on their trenchcoats and false noses and sit down at their desks to write a crime story. Dibdin does make an interesting point that I think I'll highlight in a separate post.

Poor Greene. He died without his Nobel Prize and had to content himself with the money he made from his entertainments.

I've written elsewhere on this blog that I just don't get Rankin. He writes police procedurals, and his novels plod -- which I don't understand, because he can write a gem of a short story.

In the U.S., there is the curious phenomenon of Joyce Carol Oates, who writes everything, including crime stories, under the same name. Yes, a "serious" writer publishes in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. Of course, that might be why she has been accused of writing too much.

October 09, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not sure why anyone would want the phony respect of literary snobs anyway.

I'd rather have the sales.

October 09, 2006  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I'd rather have the sales, too, but I'm sure that on some level, even the most successful crime novelist (and not many are more successful than Ian Rankin) wants critical respect.

It may be analogous to that craving some Hollywood stars who have made their millions suddenly feel to be taken seriously. Or maybe a better analogy is the stock figure of the immigrant who succeeds in business, but still feels he needs something more in order to be accepted into polite society.

October 09, 2006  

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