Last night's 56th Annual National Book Awards, held at the Marriott Marquis in New York, offered a few moments of humor, many shots at easy targets and, for a ceremony that purportedly celebrates the best American literature has to offer, tediously repetitive laments for the passing of “serious” literature.
But none of that is especially surprising as these elements are nothing but the status quo for gatherings of two or more book people....
The torpid mood of the event began with host Garrison Keillor's witty and very dry opening remarks. To kick the evening off, Prairie Home Companion’s Keillor delivered a speech about the fast-decaying literary merit of most books published today—a theme that would be taken up by several other speakers—and took aim at books that sell well. “Most of us have stood in Barnes & Noble,” he said, “and opened a Harry Potter book and thought, ‘I could have done that. Why didn’t I do that?’ ” And while the remarks were greeted cheerfully by the audience, there seemed to be a slight disconnect. The audience was made up of the people who could be considered to be most complicit in literature’s impending demise (if, in fact, its demise is impending), namely, the publishers, editors, publicists, agents and executives of today’s publishing conglomerates.
Whenever the literati gather to preen and to engage in discussion on the Sad State of Book Publishing These Days, they're inflating their self-worth by stomping all over your education and taste. Yes, you idiot; you unsophisticated, barely-literate follower-of-crowds--you're probably not smart enough to pick up on it, but you're being insulted.
But the publishing professionals are delighted to take your money. They need to sell inane novels to morons like you so they can afford to lose money on the real books, the important books. The books you'll never read because they're so far over your head.
I've never read a Harry Potter book, so I can't comment on the quality of J.K. Rowling's writing. I can't say anything about The DaVinci Code author Dan Brown, either. But I know both must be really bad writers, and I'll tell you how I know that: Because so many of my fellow hicks have been buying their books!
That's right. If it's popular, it must be bad. Is everybody following, or is this too hard for some of you? If you read popular fiction, you are a lowbrow. And at publishing industry events like last night's National Book Awards, people like Garrison Keillor (yes, the "sophisticated" gentleman who makes endless jokes about flatulence on his weekly radio show) and his literary pals are going to disparage your choices in reading material.
And just as soon as they stop laughing, they'll turn their minds back to finding new ways to sell you more books like Harry Potter--because that's all you're able to understand, anyway, and they need your money so they can produce some real literature.
How does that make you feel? Or do stupid people even have feelings?