Reading Friday's Independent Books Section and Boyd Tonkin's column, but oh dear, Boyd whatever is the matter? Who has rattled your cage this week? This was snarly stuff indeed.
What on earth has Nick Hornby done to upset our Boyd? Is this football rivalry or something spilling onto the pages?
I have been taking a quiet amble through The Complete Polysyllabic Spree, Nick Hornby's latest and an accumulation of columns he wrote for a US magazine (cliqueish according to Boyd T).I was quite enjoying it too, Nick Hornby takes us through a year of his reading (both meant and actual) and in the process demystifies some of the rarified atmosphere that the literary world has become for many.This would be a perfect book to give to someone who walks into a bookshop and doesn't have the first clue where to start looking for good reads.That's not being patronising but there are plenty of people who find it a hard and thankless task to access this particular world of books that so many of us revel in.There are also plenty of us who, like Nick Hornby, set out to read far more than we actually manage.
I identified.Nick and I have congruence.
Hornby was also winning me over with the following
"please stop patronizing those who are reading a book - The Da Vinci Code, maybe - because they are enjoying it. For a start none of us knows what kind of an effort this represents for the individual reader.."
he clinched it with
"if you don't read the classics, or the novel that won this year's Booker Prize then nothing bad will happen to you:"
Then in steps Boyd to spoil the fun and suggest that Nick Hornby is being less than honest with his attempts at literary bloke-ishness.Tonkin takes most of his quotes out of the context of Hornby's original and much larger argument and has published what read to me as an arrogant piece that in fact shot itself in the foot.
What Tonkin identifies as Hornby's "choice nuggets of pseudo-populist claptrap..." I actually thought were some of the most honest comments you might find written about books and reading today but what do I know?
There was however a final remark that did for me and here Boyd gives himself away, Hornby had dared to have a go at the critics,so in return
"the golden boy of Highbury can consider himself duly bashed".
Be that as it may, I'm not a diehard Hornby-ite but personally I'm disappointed with such playground tactics.It's point-scoring attitudes like this that make Hornby's book and his take on reading so essential and me less and less inclined to read the Literary supplements.
One thing I do know is that plenty of readers out here in the real world are thoroughly enjoying the refreshing, down to earth sanity of The Complete Polysyllabic Spree and anyone who can't see that it is a book that speaks to ordinary readers (stupid though we may be for not spotting, as Boyd has, that Hornby is a fraud and just trying to be like one of us when really he's not) could do with descending from the heights of the mountain and living amongst us for a while.
You can have our shed for a week Boyd.