I‘m a cranky cuss in a big box bookstore.
And even though I hate them, there are fewer of them – they’re going out of business, so I hate that too.
But when I’m in them, I walk around frowning. There in the new arrivals (in the front section, which the publishers of Fire and Bronze were too bankrupt to put me in), there are a bunch of self help book and glittery vamperilic trash. Walking along, I see “staff picks” that are bullshit, the usual NYT bestseller “finds” (no climbing out on limbs here). And over here, a leatherbound collection of HG Wells, but shit, it’s just The Time Machine and War of the Worlds again. It always is.
I want to stand in the middle of the joint and shout, “A hundred dollars! I’ll give a hundred dollars to anyone who can tell me a title that George McDonald Fraser or Rafael Sabatini produced! Name the four musketeers. What was the first novel ever written?” (of course, with google, I’d be out a hundred bucks. Thanks, iPads, for making knowledge secondary to search engines. But I digress).
Yes, anyway, I do get frustrated at times with readers. They suck. They can’t stick it through several hundred pages (a walk in the park for me). Adults read “YA” stories and boast about it. People who are recommended the book state that they’ve seen the movie, as if that’s a comparison. It’s a frustrating world. Everything is falling apart…
Then again, there is this:
But, as often happens, I did this too concisely, in eight lines, forgetting how few readers are able to read, in this age of the cinema and the Digests (Indigests).
This comes from Pierre Barbet, MD, whose A Surgeon at Cavalry I will be reviewing shortly. The thing is, he wrote this in 1953, back in the golden age when all students recited the Pledge of Allegiance, everyone supposedly read the classics and could quote the Iliad, and life was clean and clear. So maybe not. Perhaps, in retrospect, it always feels like we are backsliding.
But still, it seems our current audience of readers are dumb as sticks.