While we’re talking about author self-promotion (ok, we weren’t, but the other day I was) let me link you up to an interesting piece in the New Statesman about Harper Lee and, by extension, other wildly successful authors who were less than ideal self-promoters.
The Statesman writer cites a Mirror article claiming that J D Salinger, whom I reffed in my piece as the very model of the reclusive author, wrote 15 novels after his famed Catcher in the Rye, but stashed them away in a safe. Why? In 1974, Salinger expressed his feeling that publicity was a “terrible invasion of my privacy.”
That feeling of having his privacy invaded might have cost the literary world 15 works by a master writer. An interesting insight into the author self-promotion debate.
I am hesitant to post a link to this next story, due to the arcane and disparate online access policies at media sites like the Wall Street Journal, but China Miéville is such an intriguing writer that I would feel it a dereliction of duty not to bring up this recent WSJ piece on him. I hope it’s available to the public when you click to it.
As WSJ says of Miéville, he “leapfrogs between literary categories, playing with the narrative conventions of police procedurals, Westerns, sea adventures, urban fantasy and even romance.” Also add to that list “classic noir” and “intergalactic space romp.” Eight of Miéville’s books are now being repackaged together with covers designed to brand them as literary, despite their so-called “genre” content.
This, I believe, is a fantastic step forward from the absurd literary-genre apartheid that has afflicted literature since the middle of the 20th Century. I am also glad that WSJ chose to use the neutral term “literary category,” so double kudos to them on that.