Dita Parker

Monday, February 22, 2010

Out with the new, in with the old

I popped into the arts and ents section of The Sunday Times Online looking for an article. Noticed the first Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Short Story Award instead, an article titled: "Erotica author in running for short story award." The caption beside the picture of said author tells us she is a former glamour model. Under the caption there is a link titled "A Terrible Story." By this time Dita is a) intrigued? b) disgruntled?, or c) both? I had never heard of writer Kay Sexton. If I've seen any glam shots of Ms. Sexton, I don't remember them. I fail to see a connection or the relevance.  

She is one among twenty writers long-listed. But is she on an equal footing? If your past endeavors were highlighted, if the reader was reminded you also write genre fiction under pen names while running against well-established authors, if the image gallery contains prize winners, renowned interviewers, novelists and playwrights, and your caption read neither writer nor author but former this and that, wouldn't you be able to just feel the love? What does it matter what she used to do? If they're not showcasing the long-listed story, what else are they doing besides being obvious?

Somebody tell me I'm seeing things that aren't there. Tell me they aren't screaming "Are the pages of our publication to be thus polluted?" between the lines. "A Terrible Story?" (The link takes you to a short story by Hanif Kureishi. "A Terrible Story" had nothing to do with Ms. Sexton's piece. It was all in my mind, not in the interesting layout. If it's indeed a noteworthy theme in a writer's career, they failed to mention how much sex factors in Kureishi's books. Love Kureishi. Hate double standards.)

Tell me I'm paranoid and I'll forever hold my peace. Until you do, I'll be feeling uneasy, the way I do every time someone suggests I'll never be taken seriously if I keep up writing genre along with literary fiction, every time I'm informed I'm wasting my time on entertainment.

You know what? It's not my mission in life to fulfill someone else's expectations or ambitions. I need to read and write in both the art and the entertainment segment, if you must make a distinction, and obviously there still is one, a very loaded at that. Fine. Just don't hang your hang-ups on me. I'm a selfish being doing what I want to do most because doing otherwise would be self-deception. So is saying that one form of writing is not as self-indulgent as the next, that some are more right or righteous somehow. There is no objective meter for these things, but there is room for everyone. Give it a rest. I promise to when you do.  

What was I looking for, before I got derailed? An article on the digitization of tens of thousands of nineteenth century works of fiction from the British Library. That means both the arts and the ents segment, my friends, everything from Victorian classics to the infamous serial stories, free of charge and segregation, hmm, provided you own a Kindle.

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