It's not just us, you know

Tripped over a fascinating article in The Guardian Online (Populist Prejudice) by the British television arts commentator Mark Lawson, which sounds remarkably familiar. Straight from the start, he mentions Scottish crime writer Ian Rankin's annoyance at reviews suggesting his writing 'almost transcends the genre of crime fiction'.

Like I say, a complaint that sounds more than a little familiar. But the whole article is worth reading indepth not only for Lawson's defence of 'genre' - an argument that only slightly tangentially defends science fiction - but for this description of a recent legal case which almost sounds like something out of a Monty Python or Not The Nine O'Clock News sketch:

This week, Joan Brady - a talented American novelist living in Devon, who won the Whitbread prize in 1993 - received £115,000 in an out-of-court settlement from a cobbler close to her Totnes home. The novelist alleged that fumes from solvents used at the plant had caused her physical distress and mental distraction.

One example given of her problems - and here we come to the reason that Brady should probably not walk down any dark alleys filled with crime writers - was that she had become so confused by the fumes that she was forced to abandon a serious novel, Cool Wind from the Future, and turn instead to mystery fiction, with Bleedout.

So really, it's not just us, you know. Though personally, I have the feeling I could get seriously Judas on genre's ass to the tune of a cool hundred thousand green ones with change to spare. Holiday in the south of France, anyone?

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