Friday, August 01, 2008

anti-British left wing books

Inspired by Greg Hands MP's campaign against left-wing guide books, 'Centre Right' now has an mind-bogglingly awful article called 'Will a Conservative government bring about a change in British literature for the better?'

The author argues (I swear I am not making this up) that Labour voting authors have been writing anti-British left-wing books which have fallen to a severe multiculturalism-urbanisation trend, and that this has made writing about Britain out of fashion with publishers. As a result, the author's collection of poetry, 'Starry Dandelion Night', had to be published in Austria.

"If I have to pick up one more copy of Brick Lane, or worse still, any piece of fiction about a lost immigrant boy/girl who comes to London alone I am afraid I will have to give up going into Waterstones ever again (and most probably sit at home reading Ian McEwan)."

Take that, Waterstones!

'many British writers have written of the ideology and fitted the character and individuals into the coherent ideology as if they were secondary. And yes, before you think it, people do buy it – but people also buy cannabis, cocaine or twisted porn, but that doesn’t make it okay.'

Because reading about immigrants is kind of like buying cocaine or 'twisted porn', when you think about it.

'To be clear: the current generations of leftist writers producing mindless drivel of cultural pap have put many more people off reading than they have attracted. I don’t agree with the overall statistics of growing and increasingly engaged readerships'

I like that when there are statistics which prove that your argument is total rubbish, then you can just refuse to agree with them.

"It is sad because I do care about what I read and I think we should care about how this translates to what is being taught to children in schools (in selections for a syllabus)."

Exactly. Won't someone think of the children! Under a Conservative government, all children will read wholesome British books like Starry Dandelion Night, not ;eft wing anti-British books about foreigners.


At 5:01 pm , Anonymous hughes views said...

Right wingers can't be doing with statistics or evidence, they prefer anecdote and hearsay. A letter in the Western Daily Post complaining about ones that I and other allegedly frightful lefties had had published mentioned that such epistles were "always full of facts and figures". Apparently this is an awful sin when constructing or defending an argument. If he'd restricted himself to complaining they were dreadfully dull he might have been on to something...

At 5:43 pm , Anonymous tim f said...

Yes, wouldn't it be great to return to the days when instead of writing about Nigeria, British authors were writing about, er, Narnia and ah, Middle Earth.

This is actually just a variant of David Cameron's favourite argument - that if the state does slightly less (but spends the same, albeit on services which benefit people on middle incomes more than those on low incomes) British culture will miraculously be transformed in a myriad of ways into a more traditional way of life.

The irony is that 50 years ago it was all the vogue to write (although in a slightly racist way) about exotic foreign lands. Like some many other golden ages, the golden age of British books by British authors (now there's a new slogan to restore Gordon Brown's fortunes) never existed.

At 6:06 pm , Anonymous tim f said...

On perusing the site more, it seems "Centre-right" is centrist in the same way that Luke Akehurst is on the "moderate wing of the Labour Party"

At 7:35 pm , Anonymous Simon said...

What these righties appear to be saying is that they are troubled by the consequences of a free market in publishing and would prefer the state to intervene to tell Waterstone's which book to stock.

I remember a pro-Bush US blogger making a similar argument regarding the prominence of Chomsky books in politics sections.

At 8:35 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amis made the same point - a little more elegantly - in 1995's The Information:

- "Of course, thought Richard, yeah: of course Gwyn was Labour. Obvious not only from the ripply cornices twenty feet above their heads, but from the brass lamps and the military plumpness of the leather-topped desk. Obvious because Gwyn was a writer, in England at the end of the 20th century. There was nothing else for such a person to be. Richard was Labour, obviously. It often seemed to him, moving in the circles he moved in and reading what he read, that everyone in England was Labour except the government . . . All writers, all book people, were Labour which was why they got on so well." -

At 9:02 pm , Anonymous tim f said...

This would be the same Amis who's now somewhere to the right of Richard Littlejohn?

At 10:41 am , Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

a few gems from that article:

I have been reading contemporary offbeat French novels (Houellebecq) [...] It has put ideologies before the individual – the greatest literary sin.

not entirely sure that Houellebecq isn't guilty of that, and in any case his most recent novel was a pile of cack. as, incidentally, were the last two McEwan novels.

If I have to pick up one more copy of Brick Lane

does he work in a bookshop?

there are a lot of good writers out there who are cast out as offbeat because they write about British life or their everyday experience in this country

like who? Alan Hollinghurst? the author of this piece's darling, Ian McEwan? last year's booker-winner, Anne Enright? yeah they're really 'offbeat' aren't they, in fact nobody reads their novels. hilariously he calls Houellebecq offbeat too, but i'm pretty sure that MH's last novel will have outsold Monica Ali's second book, in Britain.

the whole point about literature is that it's meant to shy away from easy answers such as 'being proud to be British'. The genre of young immigrant experiences might have some duffers and some overhyped books in it, but so does every genre. And McEwan - indelibly linked to the left - has suffered a marked deterioration in the quality of his work since he started trying to write books that celebrate British values.

At 1:30 am , Anonymous Ben said...

I must say, Mr Cheeseboard, that I think you're quite wrong about McEwan, even if much of the rest of what you say makes sense.

(You would of course expect me to disagree with you, since I'm certain all I'm good for is dropping a pin in the map to decide which country's children I think we should immolate next, whilst maintaining my own personal wailing wall for the august Saint Tone. You and those like you are, on the other hand, the source of all restrained moderation and informed comment.)

You still haven't given any thought as to telling me who you are? Perhaps it has simply slipped you mind. I'll tell you what, why don't you offer to buy me a pint and give me a carefully-argued critique of my position? You could do so much good for me and set my weak mind right on so many mistakes I have unfortunately made. I'm just a hot-head, cheesy, and I need your informed commentary to sort me out.

Go on. We're all friends here, I'm quite sure.

At 10:24 am , Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

sorry ben; i only worked out who you are through distant memories of student election manifestos. no need for any critiques, we can agree to disagree, on mcewan and everything else.

that's the last you'll get on it.

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