Sir Peter Stothard is not a stupid man. He wouldn’t be editor of the Times Literary Supplement or chairman of this year’s Man Booker Prize if he didn’t possess an above average level of intelligence. But he is sounding like a crass idiot with his continuing whining about the increasing number of mere mortals who blog about books.
Only a few days ago I posted about the way he castigated bloggers for engaging in an activity he sees as a threat to the status of literary criticism. His latest comments seem even more out of touch with reality. For now in an interview with The Radio Times he seems to suggest that the only topic of interest for book bloggers is what kind of book would be the best to take to the beach.
How out of touch can he be? Yes there are some discussions in forums like Good Reads along those lines but there are hundreds of other places including blog sites where people are talking about their experience of reading the great classics of literature or reading the Pullitzer prize winners. And there are plenty of discussions and sites about the Man Booker Prize. Would Sir Stothard rather us not shoe any interest in this despite the positive impact on sales when people hear about a potential winner and want to go and read it for themselves. Maybe the sponsors of the prize and the authors and book publishers wouldn’t be too happy to see sales suffer in these economic times.
Anyway, what’s wrong with people reading books on the beach? For many people this is part of their holiday experience and the mooch about the airport bookstore marks the start of downtime. Yes it would be marvellous if they all picked up Proust or James Joyce but it’s hardly likely. Nor is it likely that thousands of bloggers will stop sharing their passion and enthusiasm for particular authors – the popular and the esoteric alike. Maybe Sir Stothard should think more about how to engage these enthusiasts in discussions about literature rather than seek to denigrate them.