13 December 07 | Chad W. Post

From The Guardian post about singer and songwriter Lily Allen being named a judge for the Orange Prize:

Well, fair enough. We will let this one pass. But only because Ms Allen has demonstrated that she has a way with words. Leaving that aside, we note that this is part of an inexorable trend: that in order for any literary event to be validated, a celebrity has to be involved. And the further away from the literary world, the better.

The nadir of this trend came with the announcement of the panel for the 2001 Whitbread prize, which included: Matthew Pinsent, the Olympic gold-medalist oarsman; Penny Smith, a breakfast TV presenter; Clare Balding, a former jockey and presenter of the BBC’s racing coverage; and Alan Davies, the comedian.

We are now approaching the time when the only people allowed, or paid, to offer any supposedly meaningful aesthetic opinions on anything are those who have achieved fame in some other area. For otherwise how are the common folk to be enticed into the literary world?

Sounds like the section in Thank You for Not Reading when Dubravka Ugresic’s advises aspiring writers to first become star soccer players, then start writing books. The process of getting published is a lot easier that way, and you’ll sell far more copies . . .

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