“Prose both scabrous and poetic.” – Publishers Weekly. “Proust meets Chandler over a pint of Guinness.” – Spectator. “A sheer pleasure.” – Tana French. “Among the most memorable books of the year, of any genre.” – Sunday Times. “A hardboiled delight.” – Guardian. “Imagine Donald Westlake and Richard Stark collaborating on a screwball noir.” – Kirkus Reviews. “A cross between Raymond Chandler and Flann O’Brien.” – John Banville. “The effortless cool of Elmore Leonard at his peak.” – Ray Banks. “A fine writer at the top of his game.” – Lee Child.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Woman Who Cried Wolf

Off I toddled to the Merrion Hotel a couple of weeks ago, to interview Jodi Picoult (right), who was in Dublin promoting her latest opus, LONE WOLF. I’d been expecting a very slick and seasoned pro, given that Jodi Picoult is a runaway best-seller, the kind of writer who - in person - can talk forever without actually saying anything worth quoting.
  Well, Jodi Picoult is certainly very professional, but she was also terrific fun to talk with, not least because she was very happy indeed to offer forthright opinions on hot-button topics such as sex, politics and religion, and was also gloriously indiscreet about some of her fellow scribes.
  The interview was published in the Evening Herald, and can be found here, but the version I sent in was cut off at the end, presumably for reasons of space. What follows is what Jodi said when I asked her (we’d been talking about her previous novel, SING ME HOME, and how gay characters are perceived in mainstream fiction) about how likely it was that she’d alienate some of her readers by insisting that her novels can’t just be entertainment, but need to deal with serious issues too. Quoth Jodi:
“I was on Twitter before you came in,” she says, “reading an interview in the Wall Street Journal with James Patterson, and thinking, ‘God, this guy’s killing me here.’ Basically, he wrote 13 books that are coming out next year.”
  That’s ‘wrote’ in inverted commas, of course.
  “Exactly. He gives an outline, and he gives a writer notes on it, and off it goes. And he says, look, this is commercial fiction, it’s not rocket science and I’m not a student of the craft. But I argue that you can be a writer of commercial fiction and a student of the craft. If I were to write a Patterson novel, I’d probably shoot myself in the head.
  “There’s room for all of us on the bookshelves, even the purest of escapist fiction,” she continues. “But I do believe that if you are fortunate to have a podium, you really need to think about what you’re saying. And maybe for Mr Patterson it’s okay to simply entertain, but I would always want to do more than that.”

5 comments:

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Anonymous said...

If I had to read all of Jodi Picoult's books, I'd probably want to someone to put me out of my misery - and a head shot would be as good a way as any.

Not every book you want to read needs to teach you something - sometimes it's enough to be entertained, not always granted, but sometimes.

And maybe by merely entertaining people Mr Patterson has encouraged more people to pick up books and read than Jodi ever has.

For the record, I've read Picoult's House Rules last year and 3 Patterson books in my lifetime, all of them were enjoyable in their own way

Anonymous said...

that must be why she wrote a book with her 16-year-old daughter as co-author. because she feels it's about REAL CRAFT.

bookwitch said...

Wow! There are some real Picoult fans here, aren't there?
I read House Rules, because it's a specialist topic for me, and I met her to talk about it afterwards. Yes, she seemed very nice.
And why shouldn't she write with her daughter? It's fun, and there is no reason why the writing gene has not been inherited. The book is in my tbr pile, so can't say more about it at the moment.

Anonymous said...

Anon 1 here - I don't have a problem with Picoult per se.

Read one, but don't feel the need to read anything else by her.

I was unaware of her collaboration with her daughter until I read the 3rd comment above.

Doesn't her criticism of Patterson, seem slightly hypocritical in light of the above? It does to me, not to mention that she does appear to have a bit of a superiority complex - oops I mentioned it,