A quick note on the announcement of the Man Booker longlist, which was announced a few days ago. I wonder how many of you are in the same place as I am — I haven’t read ONE of these books. With my attempts to keep my own writing on track, I find I am reading less and less. I, who have always railed at other people about how important it is for writers to also be voracious readers, and supporters of other writers. When I man a table at the Associated Writing Program yearly conference, I get incensed at those graduate students who wander the aisles asking at each table, “What do you publish?” — when it is clear that they haven’t purchased a damn thing from anyone. Because I’m getting cranky with age, I ask them, “Why don’t you buy some books and find out?” They don’t even have to buy from MY press — just buy some books for God’s sake. How can you expect that the industry is going to support YOU if you don’t support the industry?
And here I am, reading less and less. I review books, but I rarely read for pleasure any more. Of course, we’re all broke. That’s a given. So, yes, there is that. I am trying to focus on my own work, so there’s that. But what is happening to me? Is it possible that reading has ceased to BE a pleasure? How could that be possible? Or, is it about these awards, and about the struggle of writers to be taken seriously if they are NOT on a prize list somewhere? Am I simply tired of the endless beauty contests that this culture forces us to endure?
I wonder if any of you out there have experienced this. You are a writer, an avid reader much of your life, and suddenly you have no hunger for literature? It’s like a gourmand losing his taste buds. It’s like a singer no longer wanting to listen to music. I’m open to advice on this one, because I’m puzzled.