B Reads Canada Reads: Is Generation X A Good Pick?
Last week I wrote about my thoughts on Generation X, the first Canada Reads 2010 pick that I've tackled. In short, I really loved this book. It was weird, subversive, funny and well-written. When I was reading it I had that magical thought, I haven't read anything quite like this before. I am reading a book now where I have this haunting feeling like I've read it before, but in a slightly different form. For some reason this really irritates me. I want my fiction to smack my expectations around a bit and to show me that it's got some real fight in its bones.
Moving on to whether Gen X is a good pick for Canada Reads 2010, my esteemed fellow blogger, John Mutford of The Book Mine Set, commented last week that many people, including myself, hadn't read this book before. It had resonated with a wide audience but its inclusion as a CR pick will bring it to an even wider one. Many more people will now be able to enjoy this great novel.
I have very strong feelings to the contrary.
This book had its run. I always felt like it was one of those iconic books that I would read eventually. I would have gotten to it, maybe not this year, but eventually.
Approximately 172,000 books are published every year in the US alone. In Canada, this number is close to 20,000, though the data I found is over a decade old. A fair number of these are probably stinkers or middling titles or of-the-moment works that deserve to have their day and then sink out of sight.
And then a few of these works emerge whole into the world, a really great, original work just waiting to blow minds ocean to ocean.
A book can be successful in two ways 1) a very slow build created by word of mouth that reaches a tipping point where it is pushed into superstardom by a prize nomination or such, see The Book of Negroes, or 2) it catapults up, fed by a dedicated network of librarians, booksellers, sales reps, publicists, marketers, the author, the author's very good connections etc. and backed by a healthy marketing budget.
Most books don't get the chance. Any number of things can go wrong with the above. Often an element is missing or the timing is off. No one may be at fault. Yet these books still deserve to be read, still deserve a better platform. They should not disappear.
We saw this with Paul Quarrington's King Leary. We saw this with The Book of Negroes. We saw this with Lullabies for Little Criminals. Canada Reads is brilliant at making underdogs into stars, at bringing quality Canlit to a wider audience that may be hesitant to read literary works or small press titles (though admittedly, no small press title has won in recent years). This is a chance to really give emerging talent a chance, in a populist avenue that the average person might feel more comfortable with than a literary prize.
I think Generation X should be read. But it's already reached its tipping point. Let's give another book that chance.
What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with me? I'd love for you to comment -->
Posted by B.Kienapple at 8:30 AM