The OF Blog: All you need is love?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

All you need is love?

Pat has written an interesting column about the "hate" he's been noticing recently, in the context of the comments posted to his blog and those posted elsewhere.  While I often have differences of opinion with him, I think he raises some interesting points.  That doesn't mean, however, that I agree wholeheartedly with what he says.  Far from it, actually.

Pat's contention that "SFF fandom" seems "to be fragmented beyond repair" left me thinking, "well, duh, since there never really was a single, unified entity as such in the first place!"  There have always been people with diverse interests who interact more as tangents or secants than as anything more intertwined.  I would be quite worried if there were a more homogenized "fandom" out there, as the literature that the authors, some of whom come from fandom ranks, might be a bit more staid as a result.  But this hypothetical concern detracts from the real thrust of Pat's article.

What really seems to be in play here is the notion of there being a sort of hierarchy of taste and disdain.  Every reader (and essayists/critics such as myself) has his/her "sweet spots" and blind spots.  That is understandable, as there really is no accounting for taste in so many of these matters.  In writing his article, Pat seems to have unwittingly done what he accuses others of having done, which made for a rather odd reading earlier this evening for myself.   I guess diff'rent strokes for diff'rent folks is more of an ideal than a reality?

But what I found to be most intriguing is Pat's writing about his readers and those vociferous few who want him to review X but not Y.  I'm sure much of that comes with the territory of having a relatively large blog readership, but some of it is rather odd.  Not saying that Pat can't choose what he wants to focus on, but rather that he feels compelled to write about it in such detail.  I know there have been shifts here when I decided to blog more about what interested me than blogging about the "next big thing" almost exclusively.  Doubtless, some readers stopped visiting regularly.  But new readers discovered what I was doing and liked it.  I suspect much the same is going on over there at his place and perhaps all he needs to do is just keep at it and stop worrying about the wannabe cooks trying to add to the stew?

Since I'm still absorbed in trying to do work-work, I guess I could just ask people here to weigh in on the "positivity" elements in that article and perhaps also things liked/disliked about blogs such as mine or his?  Not that I'm going to pay much heed to anyone who hates what I'm doing now, of course, but I think it'll be amusing to see what would happen if I started to review almost-all non-spec fic works for a while, just for a change of pace...would you follow that?

18 comments:

Charles said...

The problem with Pat is that he's undergoing a re-branding and he wasn't transparent with it (nor do I think he has a firm plan right now on how to go about it and in what direction to take it). His readers reactions are no surprise really.

And if you're going to do a re-branding yourself, it all depends on execution. Need samples. Otherwise, your last question is too open-ended. Unless you're looking for indiscriminate loyalists.

Larry said...

True, that was pretty much my take on the problem facing him, but I didn't quite think of putting it in quite those terms.

As for myself, I have a mission statement of sorts at the top of this blog. I have no plans of doing anything other than not repeating myself for too long of a time, however long that might be! But if/when I do post more "literary fiction" reviews, I'll be quite clear about it. And if I ever get indiscriminate loyalists, I might have to execute them myself! :P

Paul D said...

Larry, I was one of the people who commented on Pat's site and suggested that I'd prefer if he stuck to books. I think some people are over emphasizing what those of us who made comments like that said. I don't, and have never, thought that Pat owed me anything, and I don't feel entitled to seeing only book reviews there. That said, I prefer it that way, so I stated my preference. It's not that I only want to read about epic fantasy (let's face it, Pat's tastes in novels run pretty narrow), it's that he won't do as good a job of covering other media types as places on the web dedicated to that, and that I want to learn about new stuff from Pat (like Joe Abercrombie).

If you started only reviewing Epic Fantasy I wouldn't be happy, but of course that's your right. Still, if you had a post up asking why people looked down on epic fantasy, I would probably explain that I don't look down on it, just that I don't want you to focus exclusively on it (although I am interested in your reviews, as long as you mix it up a bit)

Anonymous said...

All I know is that "state of the union" type of appraisals regarding literary fandom bore me to tears more often than not. Do your own thing, and screw the background noise, is how I see it. A good blog is more of a personal journal and less a construct that's out to appease its "followers" (or be appeased by its followers for that matter).

- Zach

Aidan Moher said...

What I don't get about Pat's article is that he laments the 'Haters'... and then goes on to slam Terry Brooks and R.A. Salvatore (authors I enjoy) and tells us we should be reading Hal Duncan (an author I can't enjoy for the life of me) instead.

Uhh..., isn't this the exact kind of elitist attitude that's got his panties in a bunch?

As for the Hotlist itself. It may no longer be just about books, but at least he's putting up decent original content these days instead of just Football updates, Youtube videos and endless giveaways.

James said...

Larry, I would love it if you'd review more non-spec fic, it points out books outside SFF for me to have a go at.

---

Aidan,

That was one of the first things I noticed. I have been following the comments since the post was made and I am surprised that no one has called him on his hypocrisy yet (unless I somehow missed it, which is possible). Getting people who are fans of authors like Salvatore or Brooks to try different authors, especially one as wildly different as Duncan with Vellum, will not be accomplished by slamming these so-called "inferior" authors. And lamenting that people are reading these authors (action, questing, adventure, very fast pacing, light, pure friggen entertainment) instead of authors like Duncan, Bakker, and McDonald (very, very, different from the aforementioned authors), while an understandable lament, is just silly because the factor of taste being subjective is clearly missing.

---

I have never been fond of Pat's reviews so I really don't follow his blog. I tend to go there when I am linked or to check out the newest shitstorm the place is brewing, but there are many other blogs that I prefer to spend my time reading. When I first saw that he was doing more anime reviews and holding contests for games, I knew that it would not go over too well, but at this point I find it hard not to be amused by it all.

Greg said...

I also wouldnt really mind you reviewing more non-spec stuff, although hopefully it wouldnt concentrate on books written by Popes. Personally I read your blog more for your comments on the community and genre in general, e.g such as this. I was about to say I dont really need your review on more mainstream spec fic, but your reviews do go into more detail, so it is still worth interesting to read. So, even if your views dont really encoruage me to read books, they do make me think about books I have read in different ways.

Eddie said...

Keep doing what you're doing, Larry. Not that I think I'll enjoy every single book you review, or agree with every essay you write, but its clear that all of it deeply involves YOU. And when someone's genuinely interested in what they're writing/speaking about, it tends to make it more interesting for others, too. Its the only reason that my undergrad victorian lit class was any fun at all :P. Who knew anyone could be that into Christina Rosetti, but hey, my professor was and it was contagious.

Btw, just got my copy of Finch from Amazon and commented on your review below ;).

Joe Sherry said...

I commented on his post when I saw it, and I generally don't see the intense divisiveness that Pat's talking about.

I haven't been following the comments on other posts, but I wonder if it isn't what Charles mentioned - issues with rebranding.

Generally, I consider the Hotlist to be a Book Blog and I suspect many other readers of his do, too. So, when he starts doing other stuff there will be readers who don't respond well to that.

I don't get complaining about it. If I'm disinterested in what's happening at a blog I'll just stop reading.

Of course Pat can do whatever the hell he wants over there. But he may lose readers who don't care about what he has to say about anime (regardless of how they feel about anime).

I don't know, it just feels fruitless.

Larry said...

Thanks for the responses everyone (I'm always late in responding on Saturdays, especially during football season!).

I'm going to be changing a few things up in the coming months out of necessity. There probably won't be quite as many posts as there have been this year and last; I have more and more job responsibilities now and I'm just only now recovering from something that's been plaguing me for the past few months (not physical).

As my recent Book Porn pics and reading lists probably indicate, my readings deal more with "literary" fiction or with graphic novels. Those interest me right now; doubtless that will change at some point. But it's kinda hard for me to review the artwork in the Sparrow series; I just tend to appreciate it, as I don't have the qualifications to weigh in upon it with any degree of authority (although I do know one who does, but I doubt I can get her to write guest reviews of it :P)

Who knows what I'll do in the coming weeks and months - I barely do, myself! I just know whatever it is, it'll be something that interests me and I'll try my best to infuse it with that interest, even if it might be more references to rabid squirrels and half-tamed fennec foxes! :P

D said...

I'm not that difficult to persuade, if the book is fun enough. :P

Larry said...

I wonder if I can get you to try (and like!) some more Southern literature, Dunja. Ever thought about reading William Faulkner in the original English? ;)

D said...

Nah...It was bad enough in translation. Not my type of books.

Larry said...

Didn't think it'd be. I think one almost has to be either a Southerner or a Latin American to really develop a taste for that sort of writing. Since I'm one (and almost the other as well, in some regards), I guess I'm blessed/cursed in that regard? :P

D said...

I've read A Good Man is Hard To Find. I feel I read my share with that.

Larry said...

I loved that collection! Too bad you didn't feel the love for it :(

D said...

I feel respect. That ought to be enough, no?

The book somehow... doesn't inspire love.

Larry said...

I suppose...but if you grasp what's occurring within and outside those pages, you can understand my culture better, no? ;)

 
Add to Technorati Favorites