Saturday, 14 August 2010
Gavin James Bower
In January of this year, my alter ego Madame Arcati ran an interview with the young writer Gavin James Bower for his debut novel Dazed & Aroused. Gavin is a former runway model and his book is set in the world of high fashion and modelling, so you get the drift on theme: but its stylised prose, likened by many critics to that of Bret Easton Ellis, placed it on the literary fringes, well outside the airport WH Smith concentration camps, which suggests more novels to come.
Something in this interview plainly annoyed one publishing editor who has just written in anonymously (as 'ed') to Arcati. The letter has the authentic tone of arrogance and know-all-ness characteristic of many publishing editors, long dead to books except as trophy index and window display. Like so many journalists who cannot write, here we have another editor who cannot read: doubtless extra-literary considerations drew him to the accursed world of books.
First, you may want to acquaint yourself with the interview to make sense of the letter. Or perhaps not. You can piece things together from ed's remarks. The letter (unedited):
'Let's start with: Bower and Dazed [Dazed & Confused, the magazine]. I know Rod and Tim at Dazed and they have 52 interns a years [Gavin having been one]. No one could possibly remember a single intern. Why attempt to sell books on this basis. Surely, it's embarrassing. Their commitment to Literature is very low and Jeff Hack is a cash cow - he's been rube to 104+ people since he was rube to you. Why make such a big deal out of the fact that you worked there for a week? It is also very bad form to glorify a magazine that charges £44,000 an advert. This excludes all publishing companies for the sake of hair products and fashion houses.
'Re 'The Publishing Industry': 'Bower. Surely you know that you were published because of your saleability - because the BEE [Bret Easton Ellis] model works. Evaluate your own prose. Place it in a lineage. Have a big old think about yourself.
'When a publisher signs someone like Bower we all sigh and mutter a variant on "how low can you go" to one another. This is a terrible blog and Bower is a bog-standard author. We all flitter around the HTML GIANT chaps, thinking, shall we? Shall we not? And even though these guys are much better than Bower, none of us will touch them, because frankly they're not good enough. This contemporary mode of short-sharp prose, with its confessional sexual misgivings and taboo breaking one-up-manship is so so tired. It's a genre to itself, likeable only to 'heart-break-fang-bash' - Twilight style, the first series of books written to suit supermarket shoppers.
'I saw you at Lit Death Match. Shambles.
'Chin up. Even if you killed yourself now, no one would care.'