Wednesday, 2 September 2009

The Great Genre Debate 2

Ever heard of James Kelman?

I hadn't, I must admit, until this item popped up on a writers' board recently. Now everyone in Scotland, and a lot further afield, knows who Kelman is and what he thinks about the state of Scottish literature.

I'm not surprised his outburst has caused such a fuss. For a start it's practically sacrilege to say a word against the Harry Potter franchise. I've noticed this elsewhere - whenever anyone dares to criticise these books their legion of fans responds with such vitriol you'd think it was their mother's chastity that was being besmirched.

Yet why does everyone in Western Civilisation know who J K Rowling is when many (including me) had never heard of Kelman despite his having won the Booker in 1994 for How late it was, How late and some would say thereby deserves more attention?

Such is the power of commercialisation. That's why you can't move for Harry Potter merchandise and Rebus tv spin-offs. It's an indictment of publishing, but also of our profit chasing culture where everything has to be about getting the fast buck. Mediocrity is King in the land of Chased Ratings.

I think Kelman has a point and I'm glad he's raised this issue. I shouldn't be surprised at the vitriol aimed at him in response, but isn't it the role of writers to rattle our cages once in a while and get us all thinking?

And now I know another Scottish writer to look out for.


Louise said...

He DOES have a point - a huge pointy point! I read the first Harry book and was disappointed.

But maybe I'm being unfair, I've only read (and hated) the first book, I haven't read the following or seen the following films.

I'm fed-up of the spin offs, aren't you? Talk about jumping on the band wagon!

Sandra Patterson said...

Thanks Louise. Harry Potter leaves me cold too and I can't for the life of me understand the near-hysteria those books caused.