So, I’ve been trying to come up with blog topics and feeling really uninspired. All I seem able to focus on these days is how far the stock market will tumble before mining equipment needs to be used to bring it back up and how much the media is ruining our political process (along with politicians who don’t seem to think it’s necessary to know anything about, well, anything before they decide they want to lead the free world). Problem for us in the publishing business is that everyone else is obsessing about the same things and as far as I can tell, we don’t have the book equivalent of Dancing with the Stars to take our minds off the harsh realities we’re faced with.
We need a new The Bridges of Madison County (never thought I’d say that!), a new The Thorn Birds or, for those of us who remember the ‘80s, a new Hollywood Wives to provide thoroughly escapist water cooler talk and the impetus to turn off CNN and be transported by great (if cheesy and farfetched) storytelling out of our everyday reality. Edgar Sawtelle just isn’t doing it for me, frankly.
My point is that it’s been a while since the whole country was talking about (and actually enjoying) a book that was not canonized by Oprah, written by James Patterson, or featured a vampire. Good yarns with big romance, big conflicts, and lots of cliffhangers are certainly not unheard of on the bestseller lists, but the kind of superlative trashy fiction that got people talking, created trends, and provided hours of mindless, titillating escapism is in short supply these days. Everything is put into a category – YA, mystery/thriller, paranormal, literary, etc. – and it often seems that readers are increasingly putting themselves into categories as well.
The beauty of those wonderful escapist novels (Gone with the Wind, anyone?) is that everyone read them regardless of whether they were considered “women’s” or “historical” or “commercial” fiction, everyone talked about them, and despite their literary shortcomings, they changed the publishing landscape. A look at the bestseller lists right now features a little of everything but nothing for everyone. Am I crazy or do you all agree? What great trashy fiction do you wish we were all reading again?