SK and the Literary Snobs of America
Caught the tail-end of Mark Lawson's interview with Stephen King on BBC4 last night.
He was talking about the snobbery from the so-called "literary" section of the fiction world, describing them as a "country club" whose mentality to exclude anything that is or could be described as "popular" (i.e. anything which is plot-led or sells in obscene numbers) was simply short-sighted and self-destructive. He said it was "foolish" for them to ignore such a huge area of the field, and named authors like Ian McEwan and John Irving as some of the writers who are always snubbed by the American literary establishment because their work is quite often seen as "plot-driven and suspenseful". I was stunned by this, as was Mark lawson, who quite rightly pointed out that in Britain McEwan, at least, is viewed as being "literary". King responded by saying that it was different in this country because in England "story has always been greatly valued", (or words to that effect) and so it was not seen as "un-literary" to utilise a strong story or plot in a piece of "literature".
I think I was more shocked to discover that Americans literary snobs are more snobby than those in England. King concluded by saying it seemed there was an equation that comes into play with any author, which goes something like this: "the number of books sold, divided by the number of books that the author has written, equals the IQ of your readership."
King continues to be an inspiration to me in my writing, and I'm hoping that someone has bought me a copy of Lisey's Story for Christmas. It was top of my list.