Okay, so I am among those who like to quote Dylan (Dylan Thomas, too).
It has been a week or so since last posting here, but I did alert that these entries would slow as touring ended and my next phase began. I’m not going to go away, though. After discussions with friends and colleagues, and being very much aware that some people put a lot of work into setting up this WordPress site, it would feel wrong to bail. I’m also conscious that some people seem to enjoy these, even indulging me when I ‘go wide’ with posts.
In addition, and on a more pragmatic but also critical level, River of Stars is still in launch mode. My UK agent emailed an hour ago (triggering this post) that he received his hardback copy of the book today and ‘it is stunning‘.
This counts as a sentence you like to read from an agent. Maybe ‘Dan Brown is in our dust!’ is another, but, really…
You may recall that the senior team at HC UK, led by Emma Coode and with a lot of input from Amy McCullogh, have planned a major repositioning of my work there. Beginning with a gorgeous and very different new cover for River of Stars (the one on this side of the ocean is gorgeous too; these two looks represent a fascinating example of how differently the same book can be well designed). We’ll start seeing some evidence soon how that new plan plays out in the UK. Book is out on July 18th in hardcover there. (Ebooks have been on sale from April.)
I got a very good email this morning from a clever magazine editor friend, regarding letters to the editor concerning a piece she’d written. She’d asked the letters editor, ‘I guess it’s too much to ask that letters actually respond to the piece itself.’ And that person replied, ‘That’s definitely asking a lot.’
Ouch. And yes, alas.
We had been discussing reviews, the frequent tendency of people, whether print professional, online magazines, bloggers, or on places like Amazon or Goodreads to impose their own agendas, understanding, expectations (prejudgments, too) on a work when they assess it.
There is nothing new about this (though the forums for people sharing views have grown exponentially), nor is there anything surprising. I have spoken and written for a while about fiction (any writing, any art) as a dialogue between artist and consumer, not a monologue. Having said that, sometimes you have to blink at what people are taking away from reading your book (article, essay, whatever). What they find, as much as what they don’t.
I think we’re all too quick. I think it may even link to the media fiascos of fast false reporting on recent tragedies. Sometimes these review issues might be because of a deadline, but more often it feels to be just the nature of our society. Read (or watch or listen). Declare a quick opinion. Move on. Art – and our response to it – needs more nurture. No?