Friday, 12 September 2008

Pullman's Book Table

Waterstones. They've had a good idea. Get established authors to pick some books they like and put them on tables at the front of bookstores.

The second writer to wield the sword of his personal literary taste is Philip Pullmann, renowned author of His Dark Materials and so on. The list is remarkably Germanophile, including Thomas Mann's Buddenbrooks, the Brothers Grimmses' Complete Fairy Tales (where does the dang apostrophe go?), Kleist's Marquise of O., Rilke's Duino Elegies and Musil's Man Without Qualities.

But the hand-written comments I'd been looking forward to all week are sooooo incredibly disappointing! Pdfs! Scans of teeny-weeny little cards! With one sentence on them! What on earth is the point? And while I'm at it, what exactly is the point of including the sentence "A Major Literary Event: a brilliant new translation of Thomas Mann's first great novel, one of the two for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature in 1929" in a synopsis when the translation actually on sale is the old Helen Lowe-Porter one?

I hope at least the whole thing will revolutionise the face of bookselling, starting a craze for obscure old German books (or obscure for Brits, at any rate).


Karl-Marx-Straße said...

Presumably it would be a good idea for Waterstones et al to let their own staff pick some books they like and put them on tables somewhere in their bookstores. Good books, not just the current stuff being chucked on to the market by Acme Publishing House Co. Ltd./Inc.

But hang on, that would surely be going too far. Those booksellers have no idea. Perhaps some of them rarely read a biography or glossy cookery books, let alone those paperbacks on a 4-for-3 promotion? And instead like stuff in translation and beautiful hardback editions instead? Clearly incompetent. Sack 'em all!

kjd said...

Literary anarchy!

Kick over the shelves!