Friday, 9 March 2012

Wish You Were (Writing) Here?

By Richard Jay Parker

It seems bizarre that writers assume more importance and relevance because they come from the same territory as somebody good.  I wonder if Steig Larsson knew just what a service he was doing his country as well as his fellow writers when he wrote his trilogy.

That there are some excellent writers from Scandinavia isn't in doubt but what's puzzling is reading tastes being dictated by territory.  I saw an article recently that wondered where the next literary geographical hotspot would be.

I can understand that a backdrop that has hitherto gone unnoticed would be worthy of further exploration via other authors but when the globe is used as a benchmark for what I should be reading rather than the story or quality of writing it seems a little exclusive.

It's obviously a way of selling books - marketability by association - but it's not something that particularly makes any sense.

If someone reads a Stephen King novel and enjoys it is their first thought: 'I wonder if there are any other writers that live in and write about Maine?'  OK, maybe if you were a reader who lived in Maine...

I certainly don't blame any of the authors who are having their work exposed in this way for maximising any association.  It must be great to be told that your work falls within a literary catchment area.  I'd still question the sanity of it though because, for me, the next hotspot will be on the pages of a great new book wherever it was written.

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