Thursday, February 15, 2007

Eat, shoot, and leave her alone?

When Lynne Truss got cranky about punctuation, I thought she was adorable. But she didn't come off looking especially cute in last Sunday's The Independent:

Her irritation at bad grammar took Lynne Truss to the top of the literary bestseller lists with Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation. Now, however, that irritation has turned to anger and disdain over a slew of parodies aimed at capitalising on her success.

In an outspoken attack on the wave of imitators who have spoofed the book's quirky title and cover design, Ms Truss said she did not know how publishers of such imitations "live with themselves".

Widening her criticism to include send-ups such as the recent Barry Trotter and Blarnia novels, she described most literary pastiches as "dreadful". Ms Truss's comments were prompted by a succession of books whose titles trade on the global success of her book, which has sold more than three million copies.

I managed to read the entire article while shaking my head. Surely Ms. Truss realizes that not everyone in the English-speaking world is familiar with Eats, Shoots & Leaves. And hasn't she heard that all publicity is good publicity? She hates the idea that others might make money or names for themselves by poking fun at her book, but every one of those spoofs and parodies draws attention to her original work. How is that a bad thing?

Singling out the latest offender, Doctor Whom, Ms Truss said it "obviously has no merit whatsoever", but conceded that she hadn't read any recent parodies.

Adam Roberts, author of Dr Whom and a professor of literature at London University, said: "I'm impressed at her ability to intuit the dreadfulness of Dr Whom without having read it. It might be that the point of parody is not whether it's original but whether it's funny."

He might be onto something there.

If anybody wants to make fun of one of my books, please go right ahead. I'd dearly love the attention.

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Chris said...

Dr. Whom ... love it!

Lighten up Lynne.

Douglas Cootey said...

Great article, Brenda. I just can't figure out some authors. For a while, it was popular to describe new children's fantasy writers as the "Next JK Rowling". And almost without an exception each author bristled and blanched at being described that way. They all took opportunity to bad mouth the Harry Potter series and emphasize their superiority over JK Rowling. These "superior" authors had not realized that insulting JK Rowling and Harry Potter would alienate millions of juvenile fiction fantasy readers. Instead of drawing in Harry Potter fans, they turned them away. Principled, but stupid, IMO.

Getting press coverage is a fantastic opportunity for sales. As you know, not every author gets a crack at that opportunity. These authors didn't so much look their gift in the mouth as much as dismiss the horse out of hand for not having the right amount of teeth. Looks like Ms Truss is just as short sighted.

Brenda Coulter said...

Looks like Ms Truss is just as short sighted.

If we wanted to be cynical about this, Douglas, we might suggest that she's eating up the attention the parodies are drawing to her book and is only complaining about them in order to keep the ball rolling.

Bonnie Calhoun said...

that poor woman shouldn't take herself so seriously...LOL...apparently no one else does...LOL!

Hey...if anyone makes fun of your books, it'd better be polite fun!

Brenda Coulter said...

Yeah. Or I'll sic my Bonnie on them!