Monday, July 16, 2007

When literature meets art... gets rescued! That is true at least sometimes.

Don't believe me? Here's an example.

When mainstream publishers rejected his novel as too literary, Tom McCarthy turned to the art world. It took success in the US to make them come running.

Literature and art have always looked to one another when they want to reinvigorate themselves. Surrealism developed through an extended dialogue between the two forms. Futurism did the same, and the fallout from its image-derived concrete poetry on these shores led to Vorticism, which in turn, through Pound and Eliot, shaped modern poetry.

Nowadays, though, the traffic seems to flow one way only. While artists and curators still draw inspiration from writers, publishing has dumbed itself down. Marketing departments, not editors, rule the roost. Whereas a host of important art venues receive regular core-funding from the Arts Council, and are consequently able to support work that is not necessarily commercial, no such boon is accorded publishers wanting to promote challenging writing. Even in market terms, the playing field is uneven: where the UK art market is driven by no more than 50 very well-informed collectors, every schmoe is a book buyer. The point is elitist, and possibly reactionary, but true. When lowest-common-denominator logic dictates editorial policy, bookshops fill up with the literary equivalent of Athena posters.

Read the full text here.

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