From The Guardian:
James Joyce’s Ulysses has topped poll after poll to be named the greatest novel of the 20th century, but according to Paulo Coelho, the book is “a twit”. [. . .]
Writers go wrong, according to Coelho, when they focus on form, not content. “Today writers want to impress other writers,” he told the paper. “One of the books that caused great harm was James Joyce’s Ulysses, which is pure style. There is nothing there. Stripped down, Ulysses is a twit.”
Here are just a few of the things that are wrong with these statements:
1) I’m willing to go out on a limb here and claim that Ulysses has had, oh, approximately 0% impact on the writing of the vast majority of today’s popular/influential English writers—J-Franz, Richard Ford, 90% of MFA graduates, most all Oprah book club authors, etc. etc.
2) Can a book even be a “twit”? That’s confusing. The other day I was on a rant that NBC should get crabs, but even I realized the absurdity of that statement. Hey, Paulo—Ulysses is a book. It is fiction. It is not a living breathing thing.
3) And “twit”??? Who even says that?
4) THIS sort of “I APPEAL TO EVERYONE” crap is what I think is ruining contemporary literature.
Speaking to Brazilian newspaper Folha de S Paulo, Coelho said the reason for his own popularity was that he is “a modern writer, despite what the critics say”. This doesn’t mean his books are experimental, he added – rather, “I’m modern because I make the difficult seem easy, and so I can communicate with the whole world.”
Nothing like a bit of stupid to get me back into the swing of this blogging thing . . . .
This is something I’d like to do, but I don’t know that we’d be able to get everyone to go along with it:
But if I had known about The Pirate Coelho, a blog, established by the million-selling author himself, I might not have wasted my money on the Alchemist after all. You see, Coelho has been happily “pirating” his own work for years, spreading electronic versions of his novels over the BitTorrent filesharing network for potential readers to download. The pirate blog encourages potential readers to seek out the electronic versions—in several language translations—by helpfully providing links to the files. He recently told a conference that rather than hurt his sales, this act of self-piracy has actually sent them through the roof.
Our problem isn’t that we’re going to sell a million books, and that these free electronic editions would be cutting into our sales. Our problem is getting attention for our authors and getting people to put the books in their hands. Giving readers a chance to test the waters in this way—free, online, accessible—could only help.
Originally published in French in 2007, We’re Not Here to Disappear (On n’est pas là pour disparaître) won the Prix Wepler-Fondation La Poste and the Prix Pierre Simon Ethique et Réflexion. The work has been recently translated by Béatrice Mousli. . .
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