Thursday, 2 May 2013

Howard Jacobson gives a monkey's about writing

     Reviews of Howard Jacobson’s, Zoo Time were not universally good, but I found it to be one of his most entertaining books and actually snorted with laughter a few times. His comments on Henry Miller, whom he appears to hold up as a role-model, were very funny if offensive to many, I dare say. Yes, it was typical Jacobson me me me, but it included a fair amount of self-criticism (more me me me) and at least he doesn’t take himself too seriously.
     What I really like about Jacobson is his easy style and mastery of language. His is prose stripped bare, lacking flowery pretension; clearly he just loves to write. OK, he’s a bit of a smart arse and cretinously patronising at times, but he is colourful, entertaining and literary, if not profound.
     Reading and the demise of books is one of his themes and the main character, Jewish novelist Guy Ableman (me me me) despairs fiction might be dead as his book sales dwindle.
In fact, in the UK we are actually reading more. Book sales have gone up and though e-readers are increasing, they have not detracted from book store sales. So that ought to give hope to all the writers out there despairing at low returns or lack of a publishing deal – people are still interested in reading.
     The story or plot isn’t the point here. Jacobson is a writer writing about writing and he has a lot to say about both writing and reading in Zoo Time, perhaps best summed up by the following self enlightening moment after his wife (Guy Ableman’s) publishes her own novel: “Now she was just another practitioner. One of thousands, millions even. Hush and you can hear them; listen, on a quiet night anywhere on the planet, and you can hear the scratch of their pens or the dead click of their keyboards, as innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore.”

1 May 2013 
British publishers have reported record sales for 2012, despite the recession and the rise of e-readers.
Total spending on printed and digital books rose 4% to £3.3bn last year, the Publishers Association said.
The digital revolution really took hold in 2012 with sales up 66% to £411m, and fiction e-reading growing even faster, up 149%.
Rory Cellan-Jones reports.

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