Monday, 7 October 2013

Posh Fan Fiction

Julian Barnes once described literary prizes like the Booker as being "posh bingo". I can only think that the depressing trend of commissioning literary novelists to write new books about established characters is basically posh fan fiction. Everyone involved ought to have better things to do.

Having said that, the cover to John Banville's Chandler cover version is pretty damn nice. It's by Jonathan Pelham.


amateur idler said...

Glad to find someone who agrees with me on this. Most people I talk to seem to be happy that there are more books about their favorite characters for them to devour - but I've never felt more cynical about the literary world than when reading fake Dorothy Sayers. It just doesn't work.

Covey said...

"A homage" is unrepentantly horrifying in itself.

JRSM said...

Covey, it's the sort of mistake Bertie might be upbraided by Jeeves for.

Idler, it just feels as though it's all about the cash. If Banville, Boyd, etc, have no better books to write than these, it's a sad state of affairs. Probably next they'll be doing movie novelisations.

jb said...

The thing is, I'd be much more positive about this type of literary cover version if it didn't feel like a quick way to make a few dollars. I'm sure most/all the authors here put serious effort in, as well as considering it a bit of a lark, but either these will feel like pale imitations OR they will be winkingly in on the silliness of it all, thus ruining the atmosphere.

John Banville's hardboiled crime stories have been pretty good, so I don't know why he's bothering here. Chandler's style has, oddly enough, proven to be much harder to imitate than most people would assume. Many have tried, all of them have failed.

(It is a nice cover, though.)

Jim Linzer said...

Sebastian Faulks has, for fifteen years now, been on a radio quiz show called "The Write Stuff." Each episode emphasizes a specific author, and each panelist is required to write a pastiche or parody in that author's style. So, he's quite the old hand at this, if that is a justification.

Matt Keeley said...

For whatever reason I actively like reading Bond continuation novels. Perhaps it's because the character is so frequently cinematically reinterpreted, but I react to the news of a new 007 book with anticipation, not cynicism. On the other hand I can't imagine ever reading faux Faulks Wodehouse.

I'm reading Boyd's Bond novel right now and it's quite good, probably the best since Kingsley Amis wrote Colonel Sun back in 1968.

The UK cover is pretty neat by the way . The bullet holes are diecut into the jacket and there are corresponding exits on the back cover. If you take the jacket off, there's an illustration of a gecko climbing down by the bullet holes.

The US cover, of course, is uninspired.

JRSM said...

jb, I do like the cover--to this and to Solo, as Matt points out its merits. And along with Jim's mention of his pastiches, Faulks has also written a well-received Bond novel.

artsy said...

i guess it depends on the literary characters. Bond, as has been mentioned, has been revived in the cinema plenty, so why not write a new series of books.

Austen though? Aren't there enough original rip-off stories around? Is this for when you're too lazy to write your own setting?