Where Is Robert McCrum?
I'm a frequent reader of The Guardian's on-line edition. Quite naturally, I spend most of the time reading the books section of this fine journal. I might even be their most loyal reader outside the United Kingdom, I don't know.
Be that as it may, I want McCrum back, the real one — and I'd appreciate to see my demand met as soon as any possible.
Wanted: Alive And Writing
For the sake of the unfamiliar reader: Robert McCrum is one of the The Guardian's columnists. Robert McCrum on books is the place you ought to look for.
This column makes for good, interesting reading — usually. I so far failed to investigate what actually happened last Thursday — in parts, because I have been in shock, since I read “Where are today's literary nomads?”, but mostly because I feared possible findings.
Had The Guardian fired McCrum without notice, and filled his slot with an apprentice of journalism? Was he away sick, and mentioned apprentice had misread his master's shorthand notes? Or was it meant to be a poor joke on the reader's expense?
It's not clear (to me) yet, but either way it appears to be a good thing that the “winds of austerity” failed to stir up the pool of emerging “literary nomads”.
To think any poor reader would have to endure a similar, novel-size pile of rubbish! I don't believe I could stand it.
At the very least, The Guardian could have informed the precious reader that the regular writer wasn't available. I wouldn't have to address this mysterious impersonator.
All The Writers Starved ... Except Those Who Died Of Heavy Drinking
Well, let's start with the obvious: the indescribably dull cliché of the starving writer. Of course, a lot of fine literature has been written by authors in times of destitution.
Yet, more often than not, their exigency was experienced rather than merely “explored”. However, quite as many great novels were written by well-to-do authors of their time.
To expect modern writers to seek deprivation — What for? To improve as artists? To meet your taste? — is impertinent beyond words. Even implying a connection between collapsing book prices and writers is outrageous, seeing that most authors have been (and still are) squeezed dry by traditional publishers.
Ironically, a great number of the (real) avant-garde authors of the 20th century were not nearly as destitute as you appear to believe.
None of the authors you mentioned were actually artistic “nomads” — at least, not in the way the likes of Mozart were.
Travelling for inspiration and writing about it, makes you a travelling author. Having to constantly move house because you cannot afford decent accommodation — in spite of talent and stamina — makes you a nomad.
There are legions of young authors out there who write by night and get (not only) “their shoes dirty” by day, working double-shifts in boring jobs.
They may well be blown out of employment by your “winds of austerity” any time soon. Then they will have plenty of opportunity to experience your “reduced circumstances”.
And, who knows, some of them may even become authors of great renown some fifty years after they will have starved to death or drowned themselves in a bottle.
Here's hoping there will be a journalist who knows to respect the efforts of the dead and those still living alike. The last person aspiring authors need is a “reporterling” who is publicly telling them that they are not yet needy enough to count.