Quite right

“It is patronising and implies that my books, which are easy to read, must be easy to write,” she said, pugnaciously adding: “Nobody calls Agatha Christie ‘cosy’. To keep up writing in clear, well-balanced sentences takes a lot of hard work and if anyone doesn’t want a Glasgow kiss, swallow that opinion and put it where the sun don’t shine.”

14 thoughts on “Quite right”

  1. That was a good quote. I read a piece yesterday on her which mentioned the cosy factor but neglected her pugnacious response. It did say Marion outsold most of the the en-vogue, edgy gruesome household names.

  2. I’m afraid that plenty do describe Christie as cosy. Of course it’s largely people who have never read her books and think that because they are set in the past then they are automatically nostalgic.
    They forget, or don’t care to think for more than a second, that what is now the past was Christie’s present when she wrote the books and that a world full of murder and the plausible motives for murder is hardly cosy.
    Similarly those who accuse her of “only” being good at coming up with intricate plots are a) missing an ocean of subtext and b) have never struggled to come up with even a half-decent plot.

  3. “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.”

    ― Mark Twain

    I thought it was Wilde to Whistler, but the Americans claim everything – a bit like Russians, which is probably where they got it from long before Trump.

  4. “Bestselling author of the Hamish Macbeth and Agatha Raisin crime novels, which drew on her experiences as a journalist”
    Now that’s a thought to ponder. A journalist with experience to draw on. When did we last have them? The career path of school, uni, column in paper doesn’t provide much, does it?

  5. The sentiment predates Twain by a few centuries:
    Je n’ai fait celle-ci plus longue que parce que je n’ai pas eu le loisir de la faire plus courte.
    Blaise Pascal (1623-1662)

  6. Tangentially, Mr in Spain, I toyed with journalism when I was an undergrad. Ultimately I rejected it, for reasons.

    Anyhow and, again, tangentially, I did a stint with a couple of journos – one of whom went on to modest success. The other, one day as we drove in her car to some story, told me of her life and of her partner.

    Cognitive dissonance at this end. Partner? This was 1993. I thought partners had something to do with business, but she was not clearly not speaking of that.

    About ten seconds and one mental gear change later, I realised she was speaking of her boyfriend. I had to suppress a giggle.

    O tempura, o batta!

  7. JS,

    “Similarly those who accuse her of “only” being good at coming up with intricate plots are a) missing an ocean of subtext and b) have never struggled to come up with even a half-decent plot.”

    I’ve only got bits of subtext, but yeah, the reason people like Agatha Christie and Dorothy L Sayers sold tons of books is, I believe, that writing great murder mysteries, is a really rare skill, and most writers can’t do it. Lots of people can write books about a 20-something journalist living in New York, so the spoils get shared out quite a lot.

    Of course, the cool kids look down on them, though.

  8. @BiS: “His first job was on the Bucks Free Press and he went on to work for various newspapers before becoming a publicity officer for the Central Electricity Generating Board in 1980. He became a full-time writer in 1987.”

    Of course, this particular worthy only wrote “fantasy” stories…. 😉

  9. @Grikath, he did note that he was “…occasionally accused of literature” though.

    Although some smug Guardianistas, as ever, can’t help but sneer whilst cashing the cheque for the opinion piece. Despite including a statement such as “I have never read a single one of his books and I never plan to. Life’s too short”.

    Don’t these people have… self-awareness?


  10. @Rev S. What an insufferable, puffed-up, self-righteous, priggish, snob J Jones is. Never heard of him before, but, by using his critical sampling technique, I can reach that definitive conclusion from having read only one of his pieces of journalism. No need to read anything else.

    His is the sneering of the self-declared culturally superior intelligentsia affirming that: “it’s popular, therefore it must be low-brow, worthless rubbish.”

    Given his rejection of potboilers, I wonder what his take is on Dickens, Thackeray, Dumas and others of the Victorian era whose novels were serialised in the popular magazines of the time. Literally, works that were written to pay the author’s expenses – the origin of the term.

    No matter, Pratchett will be in print and celebrated forever; Jones will be forgotten once the next younger, more woke, more diverse controversialist appears on the scene.

    Final sarcastic point. What are J Jones’s qualifications for writing art criticism? His Wikipedia article says he studied history at university. Surely, he’s not entitled to occupy this position, which should have been given to a history of art or journalism graduate!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *