Monday, April 11, 2016

Bill Bryson


     On page 38 of his new book, The Road to Little Dribbling, Bryson, “a best-selling Anglo-American author of humorous books on travel, as well as books on the English language and science,” says and I quote, “The world is full of shitty things that should never have happened. Look at Sean Hannity.” I know Hannity is a political news commentator so why is he slammed in a travel book?
     A similar thing happened in John Baxter’s book, The Most Beautiful Walk in the World: a Pedestrian in Paris, the difference being, Baxter was born an Australian, moved to France, and dissed the whole United States—again, in a travel book. The dissing also popped up in a book by a popular Scots writer though, when I happened to have a chance to ask his why the little cracks about America, he denied them and turned his back on me. I contend they were there, but—whatever. My point is, two of the books are travelogues and one is low-key fiction, so why the politics?

     Because I am currently focusing on historical fiction writing and generally read non-fiction for research, have I missed a new trend in writing or are people—and that includes authors—just pushier about their beliefs than they used to be? Now, here's the thing: a good writer can convey beliefs by the actions of his (don't bite me, it used to be more generic) characters and making those actions sympathetic. Seems to me, that is a lot more persuasive than calling someone "shitty" because apparently you're so important your opinions must be shared in an inappropriate way and in an inappropriate book. Mr. Bryson doesn't like America, he has acquired British citizenship, but I'll bet his dislike doesn't extend to refusing our royalties,
     It's hard to get a grip on the book-buying public. Amazon created a map tracking best selling political books and conservative titles outsell liberal titles virtually everywhere. That was the only info I could find. Book sales depend on the genre and according to from most sold to least sold, the list is as follows: children's fiction, fantasy, mysteries, classic literary fiction, modern literary fiction, magic realism, historical fiction, and  young adult fiction. And I see I have rambled a long way from political criticisms expressed in inappropriate books.
Suffice it to say, Mr. Bryson is very successful and I am a fledgling writer; but at least I'm not arrogantly rude.