Just Say No to Literary Imitations

on August 13, 2012 in Misc

I gotta confess, lately I’ve been letting some of my action hero workouts slide.

But a couple things going on in the publishing/ writing world have inspired me to refocus my exercise habits away from just maintenance and back into some more kickass martial arts workouts.

BTW, recently I posted here about wanting to lose a few pounds that had snuck up on me.  I kinda dieted for a couple weeks, then just cut back on junk food and sugar (I only have so much discipline, then I kinda slide).  Still, I’ve managed to loose about five pounds, which means my clothes are fitting better.  A few more pounds and I should be good.

But back to publishing and writing.

Some writers are up in arms because the publisher Henry Holt announced that award-winning Irish writer John Banville will resurrect the great Raymond Chandler’s noir detective Philip Marlowe in a new, upcoming novel.

Now as y’all know, publishers and authors have long worked at resurrecting popular characters created by now dead writers, from Sherlock Holmes (okay, so The Seven Percent Solution did work) to Scarlett O’Hara.  My own reaction to this news was captured perfectly by Malcolm Jones in an article in the Daily Beast.  He called Banville’s Marlowe plan a “shoddy idea… doomed from the outset.”

…the sequel racket encourages laziness among publishers.  Instead of teasing out the number of 007 titles with inferior imitations, they could be spending that energy cultivating or at least searching for a great, undiscovered crime novelist or spy writer.”


Publishers could also be bringing back into print now neglected books or series that would attract a whole new generation of readers.  In this field, I nominate Peter O’Donnell’s novels about Modesty Blaise.  It’s great that the graphic novels are being published, but unfortunately a few of the (regular) novels are out of print, which has made me scramble to buy them (some with funky 1970’s covers) while there are a few inexpensive copies to be had from used book sellers.  Sure, Modesty Blaise was well known in Britain and perhaps never caught on here in the U.S., but that’s our loss.  After all, even serious British literary writers like Kingsley Amis praised O’Donnell’s series.

Anyway, going back to how I began this post, I can tell you that Modesty’s exploits have inspired me to reintroduce martial arts exercises to my workout.  So it’s appropriate for me to end this post with advice Modesty gives a friend in The Impossible Virgin.

I hope you’ll never face the situation again, but if you do, then never, never, never try to kick a gun or knife out of anyone’s hand. Never. It’s fine on the movies… But it’s not good for real. The hand is a very small, very mobile target. It can move a few inches much faster than your foot can move through a four-foot arc… If you want a general rule, then you go for the man, not the weapon, and you aim to put him out of action fast.”

8 Responses to “Just Say No to Literary Imitations”

  1. Re-releasing older books is good, but not so much getting new authors to write more.

  2. I did not appreciate how Gone with the Wind got a sequel, although my grandmother couldn’t wait to read it. I think Margaret Mitchell’s book should have remained untouched. I want it left up to my own mind whether or not Scarlett got Rhett Butler back.

    The publishing business is a shameless machine (much like anything else in this country) with its paws out for as much money as it can grab. It’s a wonder that anything good actually does get published at all.

    On the weight loss frontier, I’ve lost five pounds on my new diet (using drugs-phentremine from the doctor). It’s amazing stuff. Gives me energy to keep going all day and kills my appetite.

  3. Helena says:

    Alex – I’d like it if new authors were encouraged to be original, but that seldom happens.

  4. Helena says:

    Michael — Congrats on the weight loss! Personally, I’d love anything that would give me more energy, but with my hit-and-miss eating habits I figure I’d improve it by eating better, especially more veggies.

    You gotta figure the publishing business has a big problem when Snookie got a big pub contract but The Help was rejected by almost 50 publishers.

  5. Ciara Knight says:

    Congrats on losing weight. It’s so tough to shed those last five pounds. There are certain books I believe should remain classics. The ending to the books were meant to be left alone by the original author. It would feel like such an intrusion if someone came after my series ended and wrote a new book.

  6. Helena says:

    Ciara – Intrusion is a good word. I can’t imagine someone else writing about my characters in a new book.

  7. Old Kitty says:

    Yay for losing these pounds! It’s amazing how just cutting back on junk food really helps! I hope you enjoy your kick-assing uptake! Love how Modesty Blaise is inspiring you too!!

    Take care

  8. Helena says:

    Old Kitty – The key words are “cutting back,” ’cause I’m hooked enough that I can’t cut them out completely. Thanks for the support!