Sunday, August 9, 2009

What The Guardian Knows that The New York Times Doesn't.

Sorry, American newspapers. You had your chance, but you got scooped. You could have been the first to give a rave review to Fifty Grand, the wonderful stand alone novel by Adrian McKinty. And it had everything a good American paper might want: celebrities, a thoughtful critique of Cuba, an American setting, even the illegal immigrant issue. Frankly, it was made for you.

So where did I read the first major newspaper review? Here.Some sort of English rag. You might have heard of it. It's called The Guardian.

Yeah, I've got a bit of an ax to grind. I'm a bookseller, and I've been trying to sell this book all summer. And actually, I have sold a few. Not as many as I would have liked, and definitely not as many as I could have or would have if American newspapers, despite their financial woes, had gotten behind this one. I know everyone wants to read Michael Connelly and John Grisham and the tried and true, but isn't anyone looking to the future? Isn't anyone thinking, maybe we ought to be cultivating some other excellent writers?

As our Guardian reviewer mentions, McKinty has already written a major crime series focused on a very complex character, Michael Forsythe. Unbelievably, the first novel in this series, Dead I Well May Be, is out of print in the U.S. (Don't let that stop you, though--once again, the Brits have picked up our slack, and you can get a very nice paperback edition from Serpent's Tail.)

I have to say that when a writer this good doesn't get the attention he merits, it really makes me wonder about the state of American publishing. I know that editors and even editorial assistants still can spot great writing, so where is the bottleneck, exactly? Is everyone in publishing so attuned to what the televised media says that they don't pay any attention anymore to people who actually read?

Well, I'm puzzled, and am likely to remain so. But luckily, our friends across the pond are not likely to remain in the dark about this talent. We can rely on Serpent's Tail to keep some wonderful writing in print.


  1. Thanks Seana,

    Its very very nice of you to say this. I appreciate it.


  2. I was happy to do it. Everyone enjoys writing a good rant from time to time.

    I'm sure the Guardian piece boosted your spirits, but it hasn't been so bad for mine either. It can be a little demoralizing to talk something up and only get a lukewarm response, so it's great to have a seasoned book reviewer confirming my opinions.

    Unfortunately, it's apparent that not a lot of people in Santa Cruz actually read the Guardian. But perhaps word will waft on over...