Having spent a month dissing our speedy culture I see your point, and accept it. We do need quick reviews. They are… ? A question mark holds up the smooth flow of agreement. The words starting to think for themselves begin to ask questions we find difficult to answer. Our obtuseness upsets them. They become angry; and their questions marks fly at us like scythes… We duck. We dive for cover. We put up Pentaphragmataceae, erect a a fence of semi-colons, even dig out an oblique reference to Jorge Luis Borges. They jump over our full stops and run across our paragraph breaks… Who reads our columns? The buyers? The publishers? The writers? Who? Who? Who? Does… - they are getting a little edgy and we can feel their effrontery -… does anybody read us at all? Are we something to read for those who do not read? Are we merely an excuse to pass the time of day? A row of multifarious objects on which indifferent eyes can focus while the train takes the rest of the body home. Once read completely forgotten. Only the landfill destined to remember us… Catching up with these runaways, who we find crying on the kerb, we usher them into the nearest library, where we sit them down, give them a can of coke, and tell them it is all right, eventually they too will be collected between two covers. To reassure them we pull out a book by Anthony Burgess, and direct them to a blog post by Jonathan Gibbs….
I can’t resist Selina Hasting’s description…
In her late thirties more beautiful than ever, Rosamond in a silvery skirt and purple chiffon blouse made a magnificent figure, with her pale complexion, imposing height and thick, permanently white hair.
For when a writer reads a book, the closeness of social observation, the slant towards pessimism or optimism, are accepted conditions which he does not dispute, which he does not even begin to see. But for “intelligent” readers the fact that something may be ”untrue” or “dismal” is a defect in the author himself, which they are astonished and rather pleased to find recurring, and even being made more of, in each of his books, as if he had not been able to get the better of it, and which finally makes them see him in the disagreeable light of a person who is always wrong-headed or who has a depressing effect on one, so much so that whenever the bookseller hands them a Balzac or a George Eliot, they push it away, saying: “No, thank you! It’s bound to be untrue, or gloomy, this new one will be worse than the rest, I’ve had enough of it.”